EKG, other heart health fea­tures come to Ap­ple Watch

Medicine Hat News - - LIFESTYLES -

NEW YORK Ap­ple Watch is now ful­fill­ing its prom­ise to let peo­ple take EKGs of their heart and no­tify them of any ir­reg­u­lar heart­beat.

Ap­ple an­nounced the heart fea­tures in Septem­ber, but didn’t make them avail­able un­til Thurs­day. The new fea­tures have been given clear­ance by the U.S. Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion and are for U.S. cus­tomers only.

The watch can in­ter­mit­tently check the wearer’s heart rhythm in the back­ground and send a no­ti­fi­ca­tion if it de­tects ir­reg­u­lar heart rhythm. That can point to atrial fib­ril­la­tion, a con­di­tion that can in­crease the risk of stroke and other com­pli­ca­tions. Ap­ple says the watch will no­tify users if it de­tects an ir­reg­u­lar rhythm on five checks over at least 65 min­utes.

When symp­toms ap­pear, users can also take an EKG, or elec­tro­car­dio­gram, and share that with doc­tors. This fea­ture is avail­able for the lat­est, Se­ries 4 ver­sion of the watch. The app, called ECG, comes as part of a free soft­ware up­date for the watch.

The ir­reg­u­lar heart no­ti­fi­ca­tion is avail­able for older mod­els, too, start­ing with the “Se­ries 1” model in 2016. It doesn’t work with the orig­i­nal, 2015 model.

Ap­ple is ad­ding med­i­cal fea­tures to make the watch feel more use­ful to peo­ple. A fall de­tec­tion fea­ture launched in Septem­ber. It claims to be able to tell the dif­fer­ence be­tween a trip and a fall — and when the lat­ter oc­curs, it will sug­gest call­ing 911 (or the equiv­a­lent out­side the U.S.).

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