Can your smartwatch save your life?

Can your smartwatch save your life?

Millions of people find smartwatch features and apps make their life easier. Now, the health tracking features on some smartwatches may help improve – or even save – lives.

One brand of smartwatches recently received FDA approval to participate in clinical studies that help estimate a patient’s atrial fibrillation burden.

The smartwatch software was created for users at least 22 years of age and older who have been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, or AFib, a heart condition in which the two chambers beat out of sync, causing an irregular heartbeat. When left untreated, AFib can lead to serious health conditions, including stroke, blood clots and heart failure.

Data collected by the smartwatch is used to provide a weekly report of the number of times your heart falls out of sync. That data helps provide estimates on your AFib before and after cardiac ablation, a procedure that treats AFib by blocking certain signals that control the heart’s rhythm.

Dr. Mouyyad Rahaby, an electrophysiologist at Advocate Health Care, says the data collected by the software can help clinicians make appropriate decisions for treating a patient’s AFib.

“Smartwatches can save lives. I recently treated a patient whose watch detected abnormal ventricular beats, known as premature ventricular contractions (PVCs). Further testing revealed a positive genetic TTN gene for cardiomyopathy, which places you at high risk for sudden cardiac death. This patient is now safe with an implantable cardiac defibrillator, a small device that monitors and regulates heart activity and can treat arrhythmias. If you notice alerts on your smartwatch, let your primary care physician know.”

The FDA says the feature can “help address the challenges of patient compliance, potential placebo effects, and the technical difficulties without an implantable device by allowing for passive, opportunistic AFib burden estimation in a wearable form that is already familiar…”

The American Heart Association estimates 12 million people will have AFib by 2030.

Want to learn more about your risk for heart disease? Take a free online quiz to learn more.

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About the Author

Holly Brenza
Holly Brenza

Holly Brenza, health enews contributor, is a public affairs coordinator on the content team at Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago. In her free time, Holly enjoys reading, watching the White Sox and Blackhawks, playing with her dog, Bear and running her cats' Instagram account, @strangefurthings.