Apple Watch ECG feature has come in handy many times in the past. It has helped detect heart conditions, including atrial fibrillation. Apple Watch wearers have had been pre-warned by Apple Watch’s ECG feature in seeking medical assistance. We look at the cases where Apple Watch has helped in uncovering heart conditions including that of atrial fibrillation.
Apple Watch has a robust heart sensor that measures your heart rate on a continuous and perpetual basis. This helps in alerting about low heart rate conditions, Atrial Fibrillation conditions, or elevated heart rate conditions for an individual. Apple Watch uses a single lead methodology to conduct an ECG reading on the watch. The ECG machines at the hospitals use a 12 lead approach to taking heart readings. In comparison, the Apple Watch’s single lead ECG may sound insufficient or unreliable source of detecting heart rate conditions. However, there has more than one instance of the Apple Watch helping uncover hitherto unknown heart conditions on the wearer of the Apple Watch.
Latest case – March 2022 – Blocked arteries of an Indian Dental practicioner.
The latest case is of a dental doctor from India. The 34-year-old dentist from the town of Yamunanagar experienced chest pain. Upon wearing the Apple Watch, the dentist’s ECG readings did not look normal. They did point to some sort of atrial fibrillation. The dentist sought medical help. It was found that his coronary arteries were blocked and he had to undergo emergency heart surgery. He is out of danger and is currently recuperating. His wife has written an email to Tim Cook to extend her gratitude. And to tell him as to how the Apple Watch saved her husband’s life and prevented the medical condition from causing any major damage.
This case has been covered in newspapers of India. You may read full details about the AFib case detected by Apple Watch on this page.
March 2020 – R Rajhans from India
R Rajhans is a 63 years old retired pharma professional from India. He felt unwell during March 2020. Incidentally, this was the same time when cases of Covid started to gain numbers in India. On feeling unwell persistently, he decided to run an ECG using the Apple Watch 5 he possessed. Apple Watch was able to pick up irregular rhythm issues. Mr. Rajhans sought medical opinion based on the preliminary ECG findings. He was diagnosed with a medical condition that required heart surgery. The doctors feel that Apple Watch’s early intervention and indication allowed Mr. Rajhans to seek medical opinion in time.
Mr. Rajhans expressed gratitude and send an email to Tim Cook. Tim did get in touch with Mr. Rajhans and expressed his best wishes for his good health. You may read more about this store on this page.
Ed Dentel – Atrial Fibrillation – United States – December 2018
For an otherwise healthy male, Ed Dentel, Apple Watch’s AFib alert persisted until he sought medical opinion and treatment. Ed Dental was 46 and a healthy individual with no health issues. He experienced chest pain in 2018 and undertook an ECG study at a medical site. The ECG was normal. A few weeks later though, he started receiving Atrial Fibrillation alerts on his Apple Watch. The watch persisted with AFib alerts as Ed thought these alerts to be an aberration or false positives of some sort. He made his wife wear the same watch. And, the AFib alert went off. He wore his watch back again. And, the AFib alerts came back on. This made it amply clear that there was something that does not look normal for Ed’s heart readings on the Apple Watch.
He decided to seek medical advice and was detected with the Atrial Fibrillation condition. His heart rate and blood pressure readings were elevated. Ed Dentel undertook medicines to take care of this AFib. His case was highlighted and covered in ABC News. You can read more about how an Apple Watch helped detect AFib for Ed Dentel on this page.
Jason Saucier – Florida in November 2019 – Atrial Fibrillation
Jason’s case has been highlighted in the press, as he thanks Apple Watch for detecting the AFib condition he was in. Back in 2019, Jason received AFib alert on his Apple Watch. For a relatively fit person like Jason, the initial alerts were passed off as false positives. The AFib alerts persisted. And, on a day he was in office, he received AFib alerts. He also noticed that he was struggling with his breath. At this point, he decided to seek medical help. He was running an elevated blood pressure and irregular heart rate. He was given cardiac treatment to help him resolve the AFib condition. One week after release from the hospital, he got the AFib alert yet again. He was hospitalized for another 3 days to bring the AFib condition under control.
Jason thinks that the Apple Watch that was bought as a fitness watch helped him uncover the heart condition he was in. You can read more about Jason’s case on this page.
Daniel Charles Ross – October 2019 – Atrial Fibrillation
Daniel is a healthy male, with no medical history. Back in 2019 when he was 68 years old, he bought an Apple Watch 5. Within 5 minutes of wearing the Apple Watch 5, he received an AFib alert on the watch. He, initially, passed off the alert as a false positive. He was in good shape and had no symptoms of any heart condition such as shortness of breath or weakness. But, when the AFib alerts persisted, he sought a medical opinion within 3 days. His Atrial Fibrillation condition was confirmed by the Doctor. And, the treatment for irregular heart beat started in a couple of days time.
Daniel believes that the Apple Watch 5 saved his life by alerting him about the AFinb condition. There was no way he could have found about this condition without having an Apple Watch. You can read more about Daniel’s AFib condition and how his Apple Watch helped him uncover the AFib through the ECG feature on this page.
Gaston D’Aquino – Blocked Arteries and high Heart Rate – 2018
Gaston D’Aquino did not experience any symptoms of clogged arteries. Back in 2018, the 76-year-old octogenarian was in the Church in Hong Kong. He received heart rate alerts as high heart rate went above the normal readings. He decided to seek medical help. It was detected that his coronary arteries were blocked and he had to undergo an angioplasty process to unclog the arteries.
Gaston is thankful to his Apple Watch for alerting him about his medical or heart condition. You can read more about Jason’s case on the following page.
Diana Feenstra – Michigan – April 2021
69 years old Diana Feenstra is fond of the Apple Watch gifted by her husband. One fine day, she received a health alert as her heart rate headed to 169 beats a minute. She did not have any previous history or an underlying heart condition. Nor did she perform any extensive physical activity to warrant an unusually high heart rate.
Diana sought medical advice and help. It was found that the coronary arteries of Diana were completely blocked. This was putting pressure on her heart and causing elevated levels of the heart rate. She had to undergo an angioplasty procedure as a stent was inserted in her blood vessels to unclog the artery.
Diana is extremely thankful to the Apple Watch as it helped uncover her heart condition and she was able to take timely action in April 2021. You can read more about Diana’s case on this page.
Patti Sohn – Oakville- November 2021
Patti is a retired nurse practitioner based in Oakville. She was gifted an Apple Watch by her son. Her Apple Watch alerted her to a low heart rate of 40 that seemed to persist and cause a health hazard. She was placed under cardiac care monitoring to restore her sinus heart rhythm. Upon being released from the hospital, she experienced a low heart rate alert once again after a week’s time. This time she was admitted to the hospital and a pacemaker was inserted to stabilize her heart rate.
Patti credits Apple Watch for detecting her heart condition. You can read more about Patti Sohn’s story of how the Apple Watch saved her life.
Barry Maden – New Hampshire – AFib in January 2019
Barry’s Christmas gift of an Apple Watch saved his life. In January 2019, Barry Maden received an alert about AFib. He used the ECG feature on the Apple Watch to confirm the ECG readings. The Atrial Fibrillation condition was confirmed on the Apple Watch. Barry reported himself to the Emergency Room and was found to have had a heart condition that posed a threat to his life. He received emergency medical and heart care support as the Doctors worked on restoring his heart condition back to a normal beating.
Barry and his family are extremely thankful for the Apple Watch. Apple Watch enabled Barry to seek a timely medical intervention. For a watch that was bought for its fall detection feature, the AFib and ECG feature helped Barry seek medical support for the heart condition he found himself in. You may read more about Barry’s case on this page.
What heart conditions can Apple Watch detect?
Apple Watch comes with a heart sensor that measures heart rate on a perpetual basis. With each generation of the Apple Watch, there are improvements in the heart sensor used on the watch. With the help of robust heart rate monitoring, Apple Watch has proven its worth in detecting the following heart conditions:
- Apple Watch can detect Atrial Fibrillation cases. It alerts the wearer upon detecting AFib. Irregular heart rhythm detection is one of the strongest points of an Apple Watch.
- Apple Watch can send you an alert if the heart rate remains low on a consistent basis. This does require medical intervention in a timely way.
- Elevated heart rate levels will trigger an alert on Apple Watch. Many Apple Watch owners have praised the near precise accuracy of heart rate monitoring of an Apple Watch.
- Apple Watch can classify sinus rhythm when the heart is beating normally in the range of 50 to 100 beats per minute.
- ECG app version 1 can classify AFib when the heart beats between 50 to 120 beats per minute.
- ECG app version 2 can go further and classify the AFib cases when the heart beats between 50 to 150 beats a minute.
- You can bring up an ECG reading on an Apple Watch if you are feeling unwell. ECG readings can be used to detect AFib. You can share the ECG readings with your Doctor for immediate assistance.
In the current scheme of things, an Apple Watch is the most reliable smartwatch for consistent and regular heart health monitoring.
In a clinical study of 600 subjects, Apple Watch’s ECG app was found to be 98.6% accurate in detecting AFib and nearly 99.6% accuracy in classification of sinus rhythm.
Which Apple Watches have ECG?
Apple Watch models 4 and later have ECG functionality. However, Apple Watch SE does not have the ECG app. Aside from the availability of the ECG app, the ECG feature is available in specific countries only. The countries that support ECG features or functionality on Apple Watch 4 are listed on this page.
We have always maintained that heart monitoring and fall detection are the strongest features of an Apple Watch. Be it an Apple Watch 4, Apple Watch 5, Apple Watch 6, or the more recent Apple Watch 7. All these watches can give you useful insights about the health of your heart. And, on a similar basis, Apple Watches are extremely good in detecting falls and taking corresponding action to seek emergency assistance for the wearer.
Elders and people with underlying heart conditons should consider getting an Apple Watch over a competing watch brand on account of the proven record of Apple Watches in detecting heart conditions and hard falls of the wearer.
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Rajesh Dhawan is a technology professional who loves to blog about smart wearables, Cloud computing and Microsoft technologies. He loves to break complex problems into manageable chunks of meaningful information.