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Report: Apple will put an EKG reader on Apple Watch (I doubt it)

Report: Apple will put an EKG reader on Apple Watch (I doubt it)
[Photo: Mitchell Hollander/Unsplash]

Apple is developing a version of the Apple Watch that can give you an EKG, Bloomberg reported. EKGs (electrocardiograms) detect irregularities in the electrical impulses that trigger the contractions in the four chambers of the heart. Those irregularities can be warning signs for stroke and heart failure.

From the story by Alex Webb:

A version being tested requires users to squeeze the frame of the Apple Watch with two fingers from the hand that’s not wearing the device, one of the people said. It then passes an imperceptible current across the person’s chest to track electrical signals in the heart and detect any abnormalities like irregular heart rates.

Context:

  • Apple recently worked with AliveCor to build the first FDA-approved Apple Watch band with an EKG reader. The user rests his or her finger on a small sensor built into the band material.
  • Apple is right now running a trial at Stanford to find out if the optical heart rate sensor already on the back of the Apple Watch can be used to detect arrhythmia.
  • While I don’t doubt that Apple might test the device Webb describes, I have trouble believing the company would ever bring such a thing to the mass market. The (diagnostic) device would come under FDA scrutiny and would need to be approved (a process Apple has so far avoided). Also, some doctors believe a readily available EKG reader on the wrist might invite the wearer to take too many readings and cause themselves undue anxiety by reading (or misreading) the results. That in itself could set the stage for arrhythmia in people prone to it, they say.
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