Apple / Men's Health Composite
When the Apple Watch Series 4 debuted in September, the world was introduced with some potentially game-changing features: An electrocardiogram (ECG) recording app – the tests that doctors use to record electrical activity of the heart – and a passive notification of irregular heartbeat that is due to atrial fibrillation Aids (Afib), one of the major causes of strokes.
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Keynote audiences watched attentively as Apple COO Jeff Williams explained the new technology – the sleek new electric heart sensor, the fast 30-second trial period – screen display, and above all, the FDA clearance – before announcing that the features would be available later this year.[productreview contentProductReviewId=’fae25eed-5004-4124-84c5-8f7961aa1f2a’ mediaId=’7aded898-1846-4b2c-947b-73dc6cd36ba8′ align=’center’ size=’large’][/productreview]
Later finally turned now . The new heart health features are available today with a new update for WatchOS 5.1.2. Apple Watch Series 4 users can access the ECG app, while anyone with an Apple Watch Series 1 or higher can use the irregular heart rhythm notification feature. The whitepaper that explains the evolution of the tools is also available today at Apple.com.
Before the big launch, I had the opportunity to try out the new version to get a feel for the features. We were not able to share the results with experts before the introduction or test the Watch ECG with a more traditional multi-lead method, but I still found it cool to read my heart on my wrist – even if the The experience did not go exactly as expected.
Setting Up Apple Watch Heart Health Features
After installing the new OS update, users are prompted to complete a full onboarding process. This information is incredibly important. Unlike most user agreements that gloss over and sign people to use their favorite technology, these documents are not just filled with case law and jargon that will make your brain swim.
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You are being prompted with pages that explain exactly what the features do – and most importantly, what they do not do. If you own an Apple Watch and want to use one of these features, do not just flip through it.[image id=’6ef172aa-195f-4bcc-a51b-65bcbd61c96c’ mediaId=’480e7742-ac40-494c-90db-94f936e9db58′ align=’center’ size=’medium’ share=’false’ caption=’Onboarding pages for the ECG app.’ expand=” crop=’original’][/image]
The most important point Apple cites with the detailed onboarding process is that the new functions of Watch should never be used instead of a doctor's visit. The functions are complementary tools to give your doctor a better picture of your health (especially if you are not in front of it). However, the device itself should not be used for any kind of definitive diagnosis. The functions have their limits – which I learned immediately after taking my first ECG.
Taking a Wrist ECG[image id=’9931aaa3-a7cb-4822-92ca-75078de33bd4′ mediaId=’59f3ea9d-91d5-42ca-b713-081ac7c8f547′ align=’center’ size=’medium’ share=’false’ caption=’Taking an ECG really is as easy as holding your finger to the Digital Crown. ‘ expand=” crop=’original’][/image]
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Both new features for heart health are as easy to use as advertised. Simply call up the ECG app on the Watch screen, hold your finger on the Digital Crown for 30 seconds, and voila, there's your heartbeat. In a quick assessment, your rhythm is classified as "sine" (normal), "afib," "inclclusive" (if you botch something during the process), or if you are me, "low or high heart rate."  The app can not search for AFib if your resting heart rate is above 120 beats per minute (BPM) or below 50 BPM. Fortunately for my health – but not for my desire to search AFib with my wristwatch – my resting heart rate remains between 40 and 44 BPM, which makes it too low to register. Most adults have a resting heart rate between 60 and 100 BPM after the Mayo Clinic. Thus, the majority of people are directly in the area of the feature, although a "well-trained athlete" may be closer to 40. I talked to a doctor about this low sleep time before, so I was not alarmed. Essentially, the repetition of Apple tells me that I am fit for the estimate as I continue the background. However, this was a good ego boost.
Luckily, this detection feature is only part of the ECG function. Regardless of your BPM, the app can save a PDF version of the ad that you provide to your doctor for record keeping.[image id=’1e7389bb-fa8d-4d42-a09b-7f8973be5af2′ mediaId=’c68a3cf2-e538-41a4-98dd-9154a8e720ed’ align=’center’ size=’medium’ share=’false’ caption=” expand=” crop=’original’][/image]
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The use of the passive irregular heartbeat is even easier. When you log in, you will only receive a notification when an irregular rhythm is detected "on five rhythm checks over a minimum of 65 minutes," Apple said. I did not receive any of these notifications during the process, but I was notified when my heart rate dropped below 40 BPM in a particularly quiet 10-minute period. Thanks for reminding me how cold that was, Apple Watch.
We finally see how smart Apple has made it wearable, but it all depends on how you use the features. If people neglect the warnings issued during the onboarding process and play a doctor with the watch, they will miss a great opportunity to give their actual doctors a closer look at their health.
In the future it will be exciting to see how the medical community can work with all this new data – even for those of us with really low heart rates. Brett Williams