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Can smartwatches accurately track your vital signs?

Posted at 6:24 PM, Apr 01, 2019

INDIANAPOLIS — New information has been released about smartwatches and your heart health. But, exactly how accurate are they in tracking any possible warning signs when it comes to the heart?

Mike Wagner was diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation (AFib). It can lead to heart complications like blood clots, stroke, and heart failure.

"I was kind of shocked and frankly I'm a little frightened," Wagner said. "Fortunately I got care very quickly."

Dr. Richard Kovacs, Indiana University Health Cardiologist and President of the American College of Cardiology, says patients like Wagner should not rely on Apple Watch readings.

"These kinds of - what we call - wearable sensors for detection of cardiovascular disease and irregular heartbeat, they're coming, but they're not quite there yet," Dr. Kovacs said.

Studies show out of 419,000 Apple users, only .5 percent had an alert of heart issues. For accurate readings, Dr. Kovacs suggests getting a portable EKG.

Wagner uses a Kardia which connects to his phone and gives him a peace of mind.

"Every morning I can get up and confirm that I'm not on atrial fibrillation," Wagner said.

Kardia records thirty seconds of your recorded heartbeat. "They can send it to their doctor, and we can make the diagnosis over the phone or over the web for people who have more serious heart problems," Dr. Kovacs said.

Wagner says this puts the patient in control. "It allows us to drive our own healthcare," he said.

Dr. Kovac's says if an alarm does go off on your Apple Watch of an irregular pulse, then still contact your doctor. If you'd like an EKG such as Wagner's it'll cost $100.

Dr. Kovac also provided new guidelines from the American College of Cardiology Conference:

  • Evidence doesn't support taking aspirin every day for primary prevention if you don't have cardiovascular disease.
  • Completely avoid trans fats.
  • Increase your exercise to 150 minutes of moderate intensity a week, such as walking.
  • Exercise for 70 minutes if you jog or work out more intensely.