I’m a healthy, active adult, but my doctor insists that I monitor my heart rate when I exercise. Why? Because I have a congenital heart defect that puts me at risk for atrial fibrillation, or Afib. This abnormal heart rhythm affects an estimated 33.5 million people worldwide and can lead to dangerous cardiovascular complications. Samsung Electronics has added an electrocardiogram (ECG) function to the new Samsung Health Monitor app to make it easier for consumers to monitor their heart rates during exercise and daily activities.
Because Afib can contribute to blood clots, stroke, and heart failure, early detection and treatment are critical. The ECG feature of the Health Monitor app, now approved by South Korea’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS), uses a sensor on Samsung’s Galaxy Watch Active2 to detect electrical heart activity. The user places a fingertip on top of the watch for 30 seconds, and the app then measures and analyzes the heart rate and rhythm, and tags the results as normal or Afib.
In addition to heart conditions, a wide variety of factors can cause Afib, including viral infections, sleep apnea, and thyroid disorders. A primary cause — high blood pressure — rarely has symptoms of its own and can itself lead to stroke and other complications. The Health Monitor app features a blood pressure (BP) monitor, also cleared by MFDS, which could make the user aware of high blood pressure before a potentially fatal event occurs.
The BP monitor currently requires an initial calibration with a traditional BP cuff. In February, Health Tech Insider reported that biometric sensor company Valencell announced a new blood pressure sensor system for hearables and wearables that doesn’t require an initial calibration. Valencell has licensed its other sensor technology to Samsung in the past, suggesting that a future edition of the Galaxy Watch might include the new calibration-free sensor.
The Active2 features sleep tracking and analytics. It also tracks up to 39 fitness activities, including walking, running, cycling, elliptical trainer, rowing, and swimming. Golfers can up their game with distance readings, touch-targeting, and shot history. Even users who don’t have specific concerns about Afib can use the watch and the Health Monitor app to obtain a clearer picture of their overall health.