Heart-Smart Watches

Many people these days are wearing the Apple watch or some type of Fitbit monitor/device. They are able to monitor their sleep, steps, calories, heart rate, and other physical activity. How about being able to take an EKG on your wrist device?

A big topic at the Heart Rhythm Society meeting in Boston in May 2018 was a new study regarding wrist-wearable devices that detect Paroxysmal Supraventricular Tachycardia (PSVT) or any episodes of rapid heart rate. PSVT is an abnormally fast heart rate of over 100 beats per minute that is caused by a problem with electrical impulses in the upper part of the heart.

Three popular devices compared

In the study, three common wrist-wearable devices—the Apple Watch Series 2, Samsung Galaxy Gear S3, and Fitbit Charge 2—were randomly assigned to patients. The patients were asked to wear two different devices, one on each wrist. Fifty-one patients with a history of PSVT who were scheduled to have an electrophysiology study were selected. The mean age was 44.4 +/- 16.6 years; 53 percent of the patients were male. The baseline heart rate and induced PSVT were evaluated for the study. The baseline heart rate ranged from 50 to 101 beats per minute.

The Apple and Samsung devices demonstrated 100% accuracy in detecting baseline heart rate within five beats per minute, and the Fitbit device showed 94% accuracy. The heart rate during PSVT ranged from 108 to 228 beats per minute. Both the Apple and Samsung devices were 100% accurate in detecting heart rate within 10 beats per minute during PSVT events, and the Fitbit device reported an 88% accuracy.

EKG monitors are here

AliveCor currently offers the KardiaBand, an FDA-cleared wearable EKG that replaces the Apple Watch band and employs SmartRhythm monitoring. The easy-to-use device can detect atrial fibrillation and normal sinus rhythm in just 30 seconds when the user places a thumb on its integrated sensor. The KardiaBand works only with the Apple Watch (either the 42mm or 38 mm model) and must be paired with an iPhone. A premium membership ($9.99/month or $99/year) is required when purchasing the KardiaBand.

It remains to be seen whether other watch makers will join the move to EKG heart monitors. According to Bloomberg, future Apple Watch models could include a sensor that allows for continuous electrocardiograph monitoring to better detect serious heart conditions.

For more information:

Study validates wrist-worn cardiac monitors in detecting rapid heart rate

Study: Rapid heart rate can be detected using wrist-worn cardiac monitors

New Study Show Popular Smart Watches Accurately Measure Rapid Heart Beat

Apple Working on EKG Heart Monitor for Future Apple Watch Models

Jamie Dildy, Clinical Analyst

Jamie Dildy joined MD Buyline in 2009 with more than 10 years’ experience as an interventional radiology technologist.