Apple developing advanced EKG heart monitor for future Apple Watch - report

Posted:
in Apple Watch
Future Apple Watch hardware could be able to detect irregular heart rates by having the user squeeze the frame of the device, acting as an electrocardiogram test, according to a new report.




Apple is said to be testing the use of Apple Watch as an EKG with a future model, according to Bloomberg. Internal prototypes reportedly work by having a user squeeze the frame of the watch with their free hand, which then sends a current across their chest to look for heart abnormalities.

While the Apple Watch already has a heart rate monitor, using photodiode sensors and LEDs to track blood flow through the skin, EKG tests would offer a more advanced system going beyond just heart rate. Doing so could allow for preventative measures in heart health, lowering the risk of a heart attack or stroke.

The rumor comes just a few weeks after AlivCor's Kardia Band EKG meter became the first FDA-certified Apple Watch accessory. The watch band has a sensor pad where a usr places a finger for 30 seconds to achieve an EKG reading.

Apple's potential solution, however, would negate the need for such an accessory, allowing EKG readings to be built into the shell of the watch itself.

In pushing the Apple Watch, Apple has shown great interest in cardiovascular health, teaming last month with Stanford Medicine for a new Apple Heart Study app that collects data on irregular heart beats via the watch. The app can proactively notify wearers when they may be experiencing atrial fibrillation, potentially avoiding a life threatening situation.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 12
    wallet is open and ready!  as an older Apple fanboy I will buy my first ⌚️ if this happens!!
    patchythepirate
  • Reply 2 of 12
    Wouldn’t it be great to have the watch be able to take blood pressure? That would be a grand slam or a hat trick if you are a hockey fan!
    stanhope
  • Reply 3 of 12
    Still waiting on that glucose monitor...
    Solirepressthis
  • Reply 4 of 12
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 5,877member
    This would be a hypochondriac’s wet dream. I hope these medical devices will be by doctor’s orders only. Otherwise emergency rooms all over the country will be full of people claiming their Watch told them they were about to have a heart attack. And I’m serious.
  • Reply 5 of 12
    SoliSoli Posts: 7,023member
    It took about two months after downloading the app and submitting my request to join the heart study before I was finally granted access. I wonder what the hold up was. Are they viewing requests manually to see if your stats are a match for the study?

    lkrupp said:
    This would be a hypochondriac’s wet dream. I hope these medical devices will be by doctor’s orders only. Otherwise emergency rooms all over the country will be full of people claiming their Watch told them they were about to have a heart attack. And I’m serious.
    I'd think there would also be a lower incidence of false alarms since people won't have to rely just on their fear when they have heartburn if their Watch isn't showing anything out of the ordinary. Biometric monitoring is a positive because information is what allows us to progress as a society.
    StrangeDaysstanhope
  • Reply 6 of 12
    This is good!   Especially as Apple instituted their study where it simply prompted the user to check with a doctor to determine if there was a problem.  (No ER visits!).  And, by the way, a full EKG is a very cheap, simple, readily available test administered by a nurse or technician.

    But two things:
    The article states: "'sends a current across their chest to look for heart abnormalities"
    I find that extremely unlikely because:  First, how is a little watch going to send a current all the way up to somebody's chest?   And second, why would they bother?  They are detecting electrical signals coming from the heart (and yes, they do travel all the way down to the arm!), not sending electrical signals TO the heart!

    And also:  Forgive me if I'm being anal, but it is misleading to call this an "EKG".  It should be called a "Single Lead EKG" rather than an "EKG".  A regular EKG has multiple leads placed in specific spots over the chest to measure a plethora of different things (and it's incredible what they can determine from those various signals -- including various different rhythms).  A single lead EKG is capable of only one thing:  counting heart rate.

    That said, the advantage of this will be to measure heart rate much more precisely and accurately than can be done by looking for a blood surge through the veins.  The Cleveland Clinic proved that when they compared heart rate from a (real) EKG, chest strap and various wrist based monitors:  At 90% accuracy the Apple Watch was the most accurate of the wrist based monitors.  But the (single lead EKG) chest strap was the most accurate at 99%.

    And, I would hope that they will at some point convert from the current method of measuring heart rate to using this electrical method.   I suspect it will use far less power, be more accurate and, unlike the current method, be able to accurately measure heart rate while lifting weights and such. 
  • Reply 7 of 12
    Soli said:
    It took about two months after downloading the app and submitting my request to join the heart study before I was finally granted access. I wonder what the hold up was. Are they viewing requests manually to see if your stats are a match for the study?

    lkrupp said:
    This would be a hypochondriac’s wet dream. I hope these medical devices will be by doctor’s orders only. Otherwise emergency rooms all over the country will be full of people claiming their Watch told them they were about to have a heart attack. And I’m serious.
    I'd think there would also be a lower incidence of false alarms since people won't have to rely just on their fear when they have heartburn if their Watch isn't showing anything out of the ordinary. Biometric monitoring is a positive because information is what allows us to progress as a society.
    Yeah I just signed up a couple weeks ago, still waiting. Guess they have too many data points!?

    Agreed on second, this is good thing, not a bad thing. More good data is a net positive, edge cases aside.
    stanhope
  • Reply 8 of 12
    SoliSoli Posts: 7,023member
    Soli said:
    It took about two months after downloading the app and submitting my request to join the heart study before I was finally granted access. I wonder what the hold up was. Are they viewing requests manually to see if your stats are a match for the study?

    lkrupp said:
    This would be a hypochondriac’s wet dream. I hope these medical devices will be by doctor’s orders only. Otherwise emergency rooms all over the country will be full of people claiming their Watch told them they were about to have a heart attack. And I’m serious.
    I'd think there would also be a lower incidence of false alarms since people won't have to rely just on their fear when they have heartburn if their Watch isn't showing anything out of the ordinary. Biometric monitoring is a positive because information is what allows us to progress as a society.
    Yeah I just signed up a couple weeks ago, still waiting. Guess they have too many data points!?

    Agreed on second, this is good thing, not a bad thing. More good data is a net positive, edge cases aside.
    And these stories will just continue to increase until it's so common that it's no longer newsworthy for the technology, which will be a great thing.

    And then you have the newer SOS service and the new cellular option, both of which will surely help save people from other life threatening issues.
    edited December 2017
  • Reply 9 of 12
    Good idea, and another step Apple are taking to improve the "health" experience on the watch and phone.
    stanhope
  • Reply 10 of 12
    k2kwk2kw Posts: 1,214member
    Wouldn’t it be great to have the watch be able to take blood pressure? That would be a grand slam or a hat trick if you are a hockey fan!
    JinTech said:
    Still waiting on that glucose monitor...
    Yeah I am still waiting on either of these things to happen.   Kind of figure this is apple’s way of sending out positive news to counter the negative press about the battery/software throttling.
  • Reply 11 of 12
    k2kw said:
    Wouldn’t it be great to have the watch be able to take blood pressure? That would be a grand slam or a hat trick if you are a hockey fan!
    JinTech said:
    Still waiting on that glucose monitor...
    Yeah I am still waiting on either of these things to happen.   Kind of figure this is apple’s way of sending out positive news to counter the negative press about the battery/software throttling.

    Do you have to be a negative nelly about everything?? You have to say something negative about Apple in every thread you "contribute" to.
    Soli
  • Reply 12 of 12

    In pushing the Apple Watch, Apple has shown great interest in cardiovascular health, teaming last month with Stanford Medicine for a new Apple Heart Study app that collects data on irregular heart beats via the watch. The app can proactively notify wearers when they may be experiencing atrial fibrillation, potentially avoiding a life threatening situation.

    Just a note, the main purpose of the Apple Heart Study is not to help wearers with detecting atrial fibrillation, that's just a secondary effect.  The primary purpose of the app, at this time, is to determine the feasibility of the Apple Watch as a measuring device for atrial fibrillation.  That's my reading of the documentation in the app.  I suspect the results will be used to help get the Apple Watch approved and certified by the FDA.

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