Watch feature by Apple – a bane for health?

Manufacturing of high-end products is the new trend. Every now and then  with emerging brands and rising technological advancements, development has been on its highest peak. When a brand comes out with a product of theirs, expectations are usually that of a phone or a gadget that already exists. However, with time, things change and this has been the same thing with Apple, the tech giant. Apple has always been on one news or the other and every second day they are out with a new feature or a product. This time, Apple has attempted to blow everyone’s mind with a feature on Apple Watch Series  4, that is apparently a newbie in the market.

Here’s to one of the most flabbergasting announcements made by Apple in its annual hardware event. The announcement wasn’t of a new gadget but of a new feature on their watch.

Is the feature a game changer in health sector?

The COO, Jeff Williams has claimed that Apple has added electrodes into the black sapphire crystal and the digital crown permitting the user to take an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG). The statement led to perhaps the loudest applause in the event. Cardiology Today, a health magazine spoke to a number of cardiologists about the impact of this new feature on clinical practice. The functioning of Apple watch is such that the watch enables the users to take an ECG reading right from the wrist. The App that comes with it, records the heart rhythm classification within 30 seconds. The app then notifies the users about the reading whether normal or irregular. The records are then stored in a PDF format. They can be viewed by the physicians upon request.

The FDA cleared the new ECG App as a class II medical device. However, the ECG app is not suitable for users with other known arrhythmia. The FDA also has set the disclaimer that the data provided by the app is only for information purposes. FDA urges users to not take action solely based on the records of the app and undertake physicians’ comments on the same. Jagmeet P. Singh, MD, D.Phil – Associate Chief of Cardiology Division at Massachusetts General Hospital therefore claims this device to be a game changer. But pros and cons exists of everything and so is the case with this.

The downsides of this feature

A lot of doctors and tech savvy are all praises for this feature in the Apple watch. However, a few doctors point out the downsides of this feature that are worth noticing.

The very first being that the heart rate recorded by the app sometimes can put the user in a doubt about one’s health. The issue over this is that there are times when the heartbeat slows due to other reasons. . Thyroid disorder, sleep apnea, high blood-pressure medicines can often lead to a slower heart rate which isn’t a reason to worry. This often leads the user to self-medicate oneself which is not encouraged by doctors themselves. This feature therefore contributes in giving the user a false positive.

The second downside of this would be the inaccuracy of the records. They make it difficult for the physicians to analyse. Doctors doubt the accuracy of this ECG feature. The normal ECG taken by the doctor personally gathers information from 12 areas of the heart. However, the ECG app’s records do not do a detailed survey like that of the machine. This has instilled a sense of unsurety in doctors since they find it difficult to trust the results of this app. The doubt persists due to the previous devices which have been very inaccurate in giving out results. These results were therefore not dependable.

The third downside that doctors consider is that the app generates a lot of data. This confuses the doctors when it comes to analyzing them. The kind of data that the app generates makes it difficult for the doctors to analyse. They are unsure about its accuracy at the back of their heads. Dr. Doshi, MD, Director of Cardiac Electrophysiology also claims that  patients have sent data from the app every 30 minutes. Dr. Doshi states that this has caused an overload to them with excess information. The data overload becomes a challenge for the doctor.

Another disadvantage the doctors claim is that the results may mislead the user. Watch can read “ALL OK” when nothing might not be “OK” even in case of a chest pain. This may put the user in relief however, the answer is that there might persist a problem. Having a chest pain may or may not cause of an abnormal EKG. However, it is still a matter of concern. Results often mislead the users. In case the results are negative, users do not ponder over it. The reality may be much more than complicated. However, it is the app that still requires a lot of contemplation by the doctors.

Suggestions by health specialists on this watch feature

Doctors globally are all ears for this product. But they as such do not recommend patients to depend on this product. Doctors therefore request the users to go to the doctors if problems persists and not just depend on technology. Health has always been an important component of one’s well being. Periodic health checkups are therefore suggested by doctors so that the users depend less on man made technology, at least for their health.


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