"When left untreated, AFib is one of the leading conditions that can result in stroke, the second most common cause of death around the world".
How big is Apple's focus on health tech? It follows the release of iOS 12.1.1 yesterday that had everyone anticipating watchOS 5.1.2, which adds the ECG app to Series 4 models of the watch as well as irregular heartbeat notifications to older watch models.
Heart rhythms will then be classed into either AFib, sinus rhythm or inconclusive categories.
To activate the feature, you need the Apple Watch Series 4 and the latest version of WatchOS, which will be available for download on Thursday.
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With the PDF generated by the ECG app, your physician can see what your heart was doing in the exact moment something felt off, instead of making you wear a monitor for days, even weeks, hoping to pick up another episode. According to Apple, a study has found the ECG app on the Apple Watch had demonstrated a 98.3% sensitivity in classifying AFib and 99.6% specificity in classifying sinus rhythm in classifiable recordings. And while Apple did receive FDA clearance for the Series 4, it's a de novo classification.
Unfortunately the ECG feature is now only available in the United States and Apple has not stated when it could arrive in other territories. At the time of the Watch's debut in September, Apple's native app with which the electrodes communicate wasn't ready for consumer use. With the ECG app and irregular rhythm notification feature, customers can now better understand aspects of their heart health in a more meaningful way.
Apple's ECG app isn't a "real" electrocardiogram, of course: It only uses a single sensor on the user's wrist, where formal ECG tests utilize multiple electrodes in more viable locations. Besides the ECG feature, the watch also comes with the fall detection feature which detects the difference between a trip and a fall.
Apple, a well known strong advocate of the user privacy, has assured that all the data and the associated classifications including any noted symptoms will be stored securely in the Health app on iPhone. From there, you can create a report and share your results with a doctor.
"Apple's largest contribution to mankind will be in improving people's health and well-being", Tim Cook told TIME in a recent interview.