The new Apple Watch includes an FDA-approved heart monitor

Apple’s foray into digital health has been bolstered by the announcement of its Apple Watch Series 4, its most health-focused device ever since the series’ launch back in 2015.

The new ECG app and electrical heart rate sensor enable customers to take an electrocardiogram right from the wrist.

The company’s latest smartwatch features a host of health and fitness capabilities and its new ECG app has even been granted a De Novo classification by the FDA.

The ECG app is intended to detect if users are showing signs of Atrial Fibrillation (AFib), a common type of heart arrhythmia affecting millions of citizens in the US and around the world.

To receive an ECG, users touch the smartwatch’s Digital Crown (the windy bit on the watch) and after 30 seconds receive information on whether their heart is beating in a normal pattern. Users can then see their heart’s reading and information in the Health app, which can be shared with physicians.

Apple’s latest smartwatch even analyses heart rhythms intermittently and will send users a notification if an irregular rhythm is detected. Users will also be alerted if their heart rate is too high or too low, acting as a personal warning device.

The ECG app will only be available in the US, most likely due to its FDA approved links, as will the irregular rhythm notifications.

The health features don’t stop there and the Smart Watch Series 4 includes an updated accelerometer and gyroscope which can identify when someone takes a fall. Indeed, if the smartwatch detects immobility after 60 seconds of a fall, it will automatically contact emergency services along with a message to a user’s emergency contacts.

Besides from the health-orientated technology the new Series improves upon its fitness and workout features. Series 4 lets users challenge other Apple Watch wearers to competitions, whereas Yoga and Hiking workouts have been added to track active calories burned and the amount of exercise undertaken. An extended battery life of six hours whilst using GPS should please those who enjoy exercising outdoors and pace alerts for runners should enable them to see just how they’re performing.

The Watch Series 4 was described as an “intelligent guardian for your health” by Apple’s COO, Jeff Williams.

“The completely redesigned Apple Watch Series 4 continues to be an indispensable communication and fitness companion, and now with the addition of groundbreaking features, like fall detection and the first-ever ECG app offered directly to consumers, it also becomes an intelligent guardian for your health,” Williams said.

It must be said that there is already an FDA cleared ECG device (compatible with Apple’s Watch Series) available for consumers to buy – AliveCor’s Kardiamobile ECG monitor and KardiaBand for the Apple Watch. In November last year, KardiaBand was cleared for use by the FDA on the Apple Watch, giving users a way to capture an ECG if they purchased the device. Apple’s boast as the “first-ever ECG app” could be misconstrued as false considering that AliveCor’s KardiaBand was cleared for use as an over-the-counter device by the FDA. And whilst Apple has predicated for a while that it has been moving towards digital health, it certainly isn’t the first comapany to offer such products to consumers.

Reece Armstrong is a reporter for Digital Health Age. Coming from the North East of England, Reece has an MA in Media & Journalism and a BA in Popular & Contemporary Music from Newcastle University. Reach him on Twitter or email via:

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