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Joe in Gladewater, Texas listens on KTBB and asked: “I was wondering about my Apple Watch and the EKG that it takes. I’m wondering how accurate that can be. And also, is it better than the other smartwatches or Fitbit-type watches that measure your heart rate?”
Joe, Apples EKG feature has FDA approval and its reasonably accurate for what it is, but its not a replacement for a proper hospital EKG.
There are two separate elements of the EKG feature: 1) the watch will try to determine whether your heart is working normally or not – that is reasonably accurate but not perfect, 2) the EKG wave will be saved to a PDF which can be shared with a doctor.
In studies the PDF has been enough to determine that a patient is in atrial fibrillation 96% of the time, but on its own its not a replacement for a doctor or anything like that, its just a convenient tool that is always on your body but is ultimately less accurate than specialized tools.
As for other smartwatches or Fitbits, Apples EKG feature is not the same as the heart rate monitor, it doesnt just use the infrared sensor on your wrist but it also takes a conductive reading from the crown on the side at the same time.
The heart rate sensor itself is probably comparable to the rest of the heart rate sensors on the market. That technology is pretty mature and has existed in exercise watches that are far more serious than Fitbits for many years now. For the most part everyone has a fairly reliable version of it figured out.
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