Maria Montero

Apple Watch’s ECG function is already proving its worth

When Apple announced its latest Series 4 watch with EKG features, my mother breathed a sigh of relief and then proceeded to set a reminder to order one for my father. That’s because we found out last year, by chance, that you have atrial fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation is an irregular heartbeat, often a rapid heart rate that can increase your risk of stroke, heart failure, and other heart-related problems.

The ECG feature, which monitors your heart rate and can detect AFib, * was activated just two days ago. Already, at least one person has benefited from it.

Yesterday, a person on Reddit shared how their Apple Watch notified them of an abnormal heart rhythm. From there they ran the ECG app and found it to be AFib. They went to urgent care and saw a doctor who they said said, “I should buy Apple stock. This probably saved you. I read about this last night and thought we would see a hike this week. I wasn’t expecting it first thing this morning. “

The patient says he proceeded to see a cardiologist the next day, who did an examination and confirmed the diagnosis of AFib.

“I’m scheduled to go back in a week for some additional tests to start looking at the cause … blood, thyroid, etc.,” they wrote. “He also programmed me with a partner who specializes more in the electrical aspect of things so that it looks from that angle too.”

As one of the first most proprietary ECG monitors, this could make a huge difference in the number of people who have at least some transparency in their heart health. But to be clear, once you enable the new feature, the watch is still not constantly searching for AFib. When the heart rate monitor detects that something is off (for example, a skipped or fast heartbeat) it will send a notification to your wrist.

That’s when you open the ECG app, rest your arm on your lap or table, and then hold your finger on the crown for 30 seconds. From there, the watch will tell you if there are signs of atrial fibrillation.

If you’d like to learn more about features, check out my colleague Brian Heater’s article below.