Keep Your Heart Rhythm in Check with Your Smartwatch
By Aatish Garg, MD, Cardiologist—Virtua Heart Rhythm Specialists
Smartwatches started out as a great way to track your exercise, check messages and news alerts without taking out your phone, and read email. Now, these devices can help track your heart health.
The latest smartwatches are equipped to monitor your heart with an electrocardiogram, or EKG. Commonly used in health care provider’s offices and hospitals, EKG machines produce graphical representations of the heart’s electrical activity.
An EKG oftenis used for the following:
- To determine if you have an arrhythmia
- To see if your heart is beating too quickly or too slowly
- To determine if blocked arteries are causing chest pain or a heart attack.
That's why detecting an abnormal rhythm through a smartwatch could be lifesaving.
How an EKG provides clues for diagnosis
Using a traditional office-based EKG, 12 electrodes are placed on your chest, arms and legs to detect and analyze your heart's electrical signals. Smartwatches utilize light sensors to record the electrical activity of the heart transmitted to your skin.
The watch can detect and notify you of a low, high, or irregular heart rhythm that can be a sign of atrial fibrillation (AFib) or other heart conditions. Studies have found smartwatch EKGs to be fairly accurate, with the Apple Watch, for example, correctly identifying an irregular heartbeat 84% of the time.
However, it’s important to wear the watch properly. If it’s too tight or too loose, it can give an incorrect reading.
Trust a doctor for a diagnosis
Remember, a watch can’t diagnose you with AFib or any other condition. You need to see a health care provider for that. If the watch’s EKG picks up a potentially abnormal rhythm, a cardiologist will have you wear a Holter monitor to record your heart's electrical activity to confirm the diagnosis and form a treatment plan.
But, don’t just focus on what the watch says—take note of what you’re feeling. Does it feel like your heart is racing? Are you lightheaded or dizzy? Do you have chest pain or shortness of breath? If the answer is yes, call 911.
Restore your heart rhythm
Virtua heart rhythm specialists offer the latest diagnostic and therapeutic interventions to treat your abnormal heart rhythm. Call 888-847-8823 to schedule a consultation.
Updated January 5, 2021