Cleveland Clinic Studies Accuracy of Apple Watch ECG App

CLEVELAND – A study by researchers at the Cleveland Clinic has found that the display of the Apple Watch 4 correctly identifies atrial fibrillation 41% of the time. 

In addition, the smart watch provides a downloadable PDF that can identify atrial fibrillation – or the upper chamber of the heart beating out of sync with the lower chamber – 98% of the time.

In December 2018, Apple launched the ECG app, which allows the watch to capture information about heart rhythm and send notifications when it detects irregular beats associated with atrial fibrillation, or AFib.

“A standard ECG remains the gold standard for detecting Afib,” said Dr. Marc Gillinov, Cleveland Clinic chairman of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery and the Judith Dion Pyle Chair in Heart Valve Research, in a statement. “At this point, consumer wearables and watches don’t have the accuracy to replace the ECG. A diagnosis of Afib requires input from a physician.”

The study examined 50 patients after they underwent cardiac surgery at the Cleveland Clinic. Assessments were done three times per day over two days, obtaining 292 readings. 

The ECG app display correctly identified 34 of the 90 instances of AFib observed. In the 25 patients who had multiple instances of AFib, the irregular beat was identified 19 times. 

In the app’s downloadable PDF, 84 of the 90 AFib occurrences were properly identified. In patients with multiple instances, the PDF identified 24 of the 25. 

“The data suggests that further technological advances are necessary before these wearables can be fully incorporated into current clinical management,” said Dr. Milind Desai, cardiologist, director of clinical operations and Haslam Family Endowed Chair in cardiovascular medicine.

According to the American Heart Association, 2.7 million Americans have atrial fibrillation, making it one of the most common forms of irregular heart rhythm. AFib is associated with an increased risk of stroke and heart failure. 

SOURCE: Cleveland Clinic

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.