Apple’s newest Series 4 Watch now comes complete with new health features that American Heart Association President Ivor Benjamin, MD, has called “game changing.”1
One particular feature allows users to track their heartbeat for irregular rhythms, including atrial fibrillation. This can have time, cost, and life-saving potential for some users.
“We’ve had cases where someone is working out at the gym and suddenly notice they feel funny,” said Thomas Kottke, MD, MSPH, a cardiologist and the medical director for nonprofit healthcare research organization, HealthPartners Institute, in an interview with Medical Bag. “Once they put on [a heart-monitoring device,] we can capture an abnormal rhythm. Once we have the rhythm we know what to do. Until we have that, we don’t know what we’re treating.”
With the new features, users can capture their heartbeat via electrocardiogram and share the results with their physician. This is especially important for catching atrial fibrillation, which can increase the chance of stroke and heart failure.
Although recording heartbeats can help users keep an eye on their personal health, some physicians have expressed concern that patients may worry about a certain result that is actually harmless.
In an interview with Self, Shepal Doshi, MD, director of cardiac electrophysiology and pacing at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, expressed some concerns, pointing out that although the watch has the potential to help, there may be an increase in false-positive results.2
“Some folks would have a little learning curve,” added Dr Kottke. “I did have a patient a while ago looking at her Apple Watch and seeing that her heart rate was 140 [beats per minute, when it actually wasn’t]. [You can] stick your hand on your wrist to get a pulse [to check].”
Of course, when it comes to health, there’s still no beating the basics.
“The real burden of disease is lack of physical activity, poor diet, and not enough sleep,” said Dr Kottke. “The big impact would be getting people to eat their vegetables.”
- Schneider A. New Apple Watch to detect abnormal heartbeats NPR. September 12, 2018. https://www.npr.org/2018/09/12/647180302/new-apple-watch-to-detect-abnormal-heartbeats. Accessed September 28, 2018.
- Miller K. Here’s what cardiologists say about the Apple Watch’s new heart monitoring features. Self. September 14, 2018. https://www.self.com/story/cardiologists-apple-watch-heart-monitoring-features. Accessed September 28, 2018.