Today Apple Watch users in the UAE get two major updates. The first is the latest operating system update, WatchOS 7 and the second is the ECG and irregular heart rhythm notifications.
Announced at WWDC this year, WatchOS 7 brings about a host of updates to the Apple Watch including sleep tracking, hand-washing detection and alerts, new watch faces and more.
For a detailed look at WatchOS 7, click here.
Incase you’re wondering about compatibility Apple Watches Series 3 to Series 6 will work with watchOS 7, paired with iPhone 6s or later running iOS 14 (or later).
Introduced two years ago, the ECG feature and irregular heart rhythm notification aren’t available all over the world thanks to the government approvals required for the same. Finally, ECG and irregular heart rhythm notification received approval to launch in the United Arab Emirates as medical devices by the Ministry of Health & Prevention.
The feature marks the first direct-to-consumer product that enables customers to take an electrocardiogram right from their wrist, capturing heart rhythm in a moment when they experience symptoms like a rapid or skipped heart beat and helping to provide critical data to physicians.
The irregular rhythm notification feature also occasionally checks heart rhythms in the background and sends a notification if an irregular heart rhythm that appears to be atrial fibrillation (AFib) is identified. 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.
Electrodes built into the back crystal and Digital Crown (Apple Watch Series 4 and later) work together with the ECG app to enable customers to take an ECG similar to a single-lead reading.
How to use the ECG feature on Apple Watch?
To take an ECG recording at any time or following an irregular rhythm notification, you have to launch the ECG app on your Apple Watch (Series 4 and later) and hold your finger on the Digital Crown. As you touch the Digital Crown, the circuit is completed and electrical signals across their heart are measured.
After 30 seconds, the heart rhythm is classified as either AFib, sinus rhythm, low or high heart rate, or inconclusive. All recordings, their associated classifications, and any noted symptoms are stored securely in the Health app on your iPhone. You can even share a PDF of the results with your physician.
Are the ECG recordings on Apple Watch accurate?
The ECG app’s ability to accurately classify an ECG recording into AFib and sinus rhythm was validated in a clinical trial of around 600 participants. Rhythm classification from a gold standard 12-lead ECG by a cardiologist was compared to the rhythm classification of a simultaneously collected ECG from the ECG app. The study found the ECG app on Apple Watch demonstrated 98.3 percent sensitivity in classifying AFib and 99.6 percent specificity in classifying sinus rhythm in classifiable recordings. In the study, 87.8 percent of recordings could be classified by the ECG app.
Irregular Rhythm Notification
Using the optical heart sensor (Apple Watch Series 3 or later), the irregular rhythm notification feature occasionally checks the user’s heart rhythm in the background for signs of an irregular heart rhythm that appears to be AFib and alerts the user with a notification if an irregular rhythm is detected on five rhythm checks over a minimum of 65 minutes.
The irregular rhythm notification feature was studied in the Apple Heart Study. With over 400,000 participants, the Apple Heart Study was the largest screening study on atrial fibrillation ever conducted, also making it one of the largest cardiovascular trials to date.