Apple Watch launches ECG and irregular rhythm notifications for your heart health
Heart health matters
It's no secret that Apple has been taking the 'an apple a day, keeps the doctor away' saying quite literally. Especially with the latest Apple Watch Series 4, that delves deep into deep breathing exercises and fall detection sensors cleverly inseminated into your gleaming watch face. Today, the tech giant launches irregular rhythm notifications and an ECG app (that's only available for Series 4 wearers).
Granted they aren't something we would tap on every day, as compared to tabulating how many calories we burn during our grueling F45 class, or using walkie-talkie to annoy our colleagues. But it means a great deal to the present (and future) bulk of their devices — on recognising the need (no matter how miniscule the sample size is), because it involves our mortality. That, we should never take a chance on.
So what do they mean?
Unless you're a healthcare personnel or someone who's familiar with heart health, you won't exactly know what AFib is. Well, it means having an irregular, quivering heartbeat, which can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure, and other heart-related complications. What the Apple Watch (starting from Series 1) can do is observe and study your heartbeat in the background. Basically, it's invisible to you — unless it detects something abnormal. The development process involved preclinical tests with 2300 control subjects and 500 subjects with diagnosed AFib across a spectrum of conditions, user behaviours, skin types and skin tones. With that in mind, Apple declares that the feature isn't always on the lookout for AFib, while clarifying that the wearer should still seek medical assistance if he or she isn't feeling well, regardless of said notifications.
For a closer, more specific look into how your heart is doing, most people take an electrocardiogram (ECG), which measures the electrical activity. Now, wearing the Series 4, you can take one in just 30 seconds by holding your finger on the Digital Crown. The technology involves new electrodes built into the back crystal of the face, as well as the Digital Crown — leading to a connected circuit once in contact with skin. After it's completed, the heart rhythm classifies as either AFib, sinus rhythm (which means you're in the clear) or inconclusive.
All of the recordings and noted symptoms are stored securely in the Health app on your iPhone. A detailed PDF is also available — if there's ever a need to send it to your doctor. The revolutionary feature stemmed from multiple studies of subject tests and the expertise of cardiac technicians.
How does it affect my user experience?
Well, strictly speaking, life will go on. Your main activities on the Apple Watch will likely still revolve around poking around the Workout and Calendar app. What's important about these health features that they weren't crafted to detect actual heart attacks or replace the bi-monthly check-up to the clinic, wearers should use them as preliminary signs or to record crucial information right on the spot.
They were invented with precaution in mind. Hopefully, you'll never actually have to use them. But if you ever do, they're here in the wings.