Nearly all fitness trackers and smart watches track heart rate, with serious athletes and weekend warriors alike using them to train. Turns out, there’s much more some wearable devices can do when it comes to heart health, including saving lives.
Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is the most common heart arrhythmia and a leading cause of stroke, affecting more than 30 million people worldwide. Unfortunately, many people are unaware they’re living with the condition. Two out of three strokes are preventable when AFib is detected and treated appropriately, which means that a wearable device that reveals its presence could be a game changer. AliveCor, a company that creates personal electrocardiogram (ECG) technology, recently announced FDA clearance of its KardiaBand in the U.S. The KardiaBand enables Apple Watch wearers to capture their ECG so they can detect normal heart rhythms and AFib. The technology works through use of an integrated sensor. The user places their thumb on the sensor for 30 seconds; the medical-grade single-lead ECG results from the Kardia App are displayed on the face of Apple Watch. The KardiaBand features SmartRhythm monitoring which evaluates heart rate and physical activity; when something occurs that warrants attention, SmartRhythm sends the user a notification to take a standard, multi-lead ECG. The system also tracks blood pressure, activity, and weight.
We’re seeing more advances in personalized healthcare these days, and this one seems very promising for heart health. The standard way to get an EKG is to go to a hospital or doctor’s office, which most people only do after a life-threatening event or for an annual checkup. The KardiaBand is like having an EKG accessible on your wrist at all times, which could help identify life-threatening cardiac conditions, and potentially save lives.