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EKG Technology Integrated into Apple Watch Band

Apple Watch with Kardia Band

Apple Watch with Kardia Band and app (AliveCor Inc.)

16 March 2016. Owners of an Apple Watch will soon be able to track their heart rhythms, using electrocardiogram or EKG sensors built into the wrist band for the device. The Kardia Band and supporting Apple Watch app are made by AliveCor Inc. in San Francisco, a developer of medical devices adapting smartphone technology for cardiac care.

Measuring heart rhythms is important for people with atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat that can lead to stroke or heart failure, and affects some 2.7 million Americans, according to American Heart Association. With atrial fibrillation, heart muscle contractions in the upper chambers beat irregularly instead of in a regular rhythm, which can cause blood to pool and lead to blood clots, including those that move to the brain and cause a stroke.

While some people with atrial fibrillation report symptoms, such as a racing heartbeat or light-headedness, many people with the condition experience no symptoms, making it difficult to detect. Some 15 to 20 percent of stroke victims have this kind of irregular heartbeat, and left untreated, people with atrial fibrillation are 4 to 5 times more likely to suffer a stroke.

The Kardia Band, says AliveCor, provides a medical-grade EKG that can be shared with an individual’s physician. The watch band contains two sensors where people can place fingers for 30 seconds to detect and transmit heart rhythms to an app on the watch. The app has an algorithm that evaluates recorded heart rhythms and reports either a normal or irregular heartbeat, or asks the session be repeated.

If the app detects an irregular heartbeat, the EKG is forwarded to the individual’s physician. The wearer can also record a brief voice memo to go with the EKG, reporting symptoms encountered, for example.

AliveCor says the Kardia Band is not yet approved by Food and Drug Administration, but expects to receive clearance from the agency, called premarket notification, for marketing in the U.S. later in the spring. As reported in Science & Enterprise in August 2014, FDA approved AliveCor’s algorithm for analyzing heart rhythms detected by mobile devices.

The company now sells its heart monitoring system for mobile devices, which are supported by free apps from the iTunes App Store and Google Play.

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