Apple Watch Can Detect Heart Problems Better than Other ECG Accessories


Photo By Varin Rattanaburi via 123RF


Smart wearable devices including Apple Watch and Android Wear have been tested in detecting heart conditions. A study found that Apple Watch has a higher detection rate compared to an ECG accessory KardiaBand.

A joint study called DeepHeart by the University of California San Francisco and the digital startup Cardiogram tested several wearable devices to determine accuracy in detecting heart rate problems. DeepHeart is a continuous study that uses a neural network to record heart rate data for detecting arrhythmia.

In the study, the researchers collected data from a group of 9,750 users of Cardiogram that yielded 129 heart rate measurements and 6,338 ECG results. The data collected helped train the deep neural network used for the study. DeepHeart network was able to convert the measurements, particularly the heart rate and step counts, to fibrillation risk scores which are usable for determining the risk of atrial fibrillation – a common heart rate abnormality that can lead to stroke.

The DNN analyzed which devices were able to detect heart rate abnormalities. The system found that the FDA certified KardiaBand by AliveCor has 97 percent accuracy rate. But the Apple Watch was found to be capable of detecting heart rate issues with a 98-percent sensitivity and 90-percent specificity, compared to the 93 and 84 percent respective scores by KardiaBand.

Apple Watch obtains heart rate measurements when users place their right thumb on a sensor pad while wearing the watch on the left arm. It can also be done with the left thumb and the right arm. KardiaBand measures heart rate by reading the electrical pulses of the user’s extremities, the same process used with an ECG or electrocardiogram.

"Our ultimate goal is to turn the wearable on your wrist into Baymax — a personal healthcare companion," explained Brandon Ballinger, a co-founder of Cardiogram.

According to rumors, Apple seems to be developing another health-centric wearable device – non-invasive glucose sensors. These sensors will greatly benefit many people, especially those who have problems with maintaining their blood sugar levels.