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HealthApple Watch’s ECG and more health gadgets you can use

An app which monitors your heart rhythm via your Apple Watch and alerts you to changes has been approved as a medical device in the UAE.
Anna PukasSeptember 29, 20207 min
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ECG Apple WatchPhoto courtesy Apple

The new Apple Watch really lets you take your health into your own hands: with a feature that monitors your heart rhythm.

The app enables wearers to take an echocardiogram, or ECG, from the wrist, capturing the heart rhythm and alerting the wearer the moment it changes, providing critical data for doctors.

The ECG app helps wearers spot signs of atrial fibrillation, or AFib, the most common form of irregular heart rhythm, which is the most common cause of a stroke if left untreated. Stroke is the second most common cause of death in the world. The Ministry of Health and Prevention has approved the launch of the ECG app1 and its irregular rhythm notification feature2 in the UAE as medical devices.

The app has electrodes built into the Apple Watch Series 4, which enable wearers to take an ECG reading at any time or if they have received notification of an irregular heart rhythm. The heart rhythm is classified as AFib, low or high rate after just 30 seconds. All readings, classifications and noted symptoms are stored securely in the health app on your iPhone and users can send a PDF to their doctor.

The app’s accuracy was tested in a clinical trial involving 600 participants. A cardiologist compared data collected from the Apple Watch app with data collected at the same time by a standard 12-lead ECG machine. The app was found to have 98.3 sensitivity in identifying AFib.

The heart sensor works by checking the user’s heart rhythm intermittently. If an irregular rhythm is detected five times over a minimum of 65 minutes, the sensor alerts the app user.

“From my experience as a cardiologist, this ECG feature can and will save lives,” said Dr Mohammed Fateh Arab, a specialist cardiologist with Novamed. “AFib is very common in older patients but in young individuals as well. It’s not always easy to catch AFib….having a tool on your wrist that allows you to check in on your health at any given point could potentially save that person’s life from a stroke. It will also save health practitioners a lot of time trying to investigate the problem.”

The ECG app is only the latest portable health gadget to come on the market. Here are some others:

• The French-designed ScanWatch uses state-of-the-art medical technology to track irregularities in heartbeat and measure blood oxygen saturation during sleep as well, incorporating a host of health and fitness tracking capabilities. It connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth and sends all information to the accompanying Health Mate app. It is also water-resistant up to 50 meters and has a 30-day battery.

• The TytoHome allows anyone to conduct a basic medical examination at home. It comes equipped with a digital camera and thermometer and accessories such a tongue depressor for examining the throat and an otoscope for examining ears and stethoscope. Perhaps best of all it then pairs with a teleconferencing app, which connects the user with a certified health provider for a remote consultation incorporating diagnosis, treatment plan and a prescription if needed. The device has become particularly popular during the pandemic.

• Celiac disease sufferers have to be constantly on the alert. Nima is the world’s first portable gluten detector that does the checking for them. Designed by a start-up in San Francisco, pocket-sized Nima also comes with an app that allows you to track and share data with other users.

• Controlling blood sugar level should be easier with the ‘Wireless Smart Gluco-Monitoring System. It measures glucose levels in the blood and displays them on your smartphone.

• Are you asthmatic or worried about your allergies? The Atmotube Pro will alert you to the presence of harmful gases, such as carbon monoxide and pollutants such as dust, pollen, soot and mould via a free app. It also measures air temperature and humidity. The device has accurate sensors, USB connectivity and at half the size of an iPhone or Android, is extremely compact.

• Tuesday, September 29 2020 is World Heart Day. 

Anna Pukas

Anna Pukas has reported from all over the world as a foreign correspondent for British media. She is now an editor based in Abu Dhabi.

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