Smartwatch readings are not nearly as accurate as we think them to be

With Smartwatches, especially the ones made for sport comes a health tracking feature that includes heart rate and sleep monitoring alongside oxygen and blood oxygen levels. While these watches are revered for this feature a new study has found that even with all these advancements in technology these smart health gadgets are still not properly able to detect an irregular heartbeat. According to what can be known as the biggest study on this topic to date, most of the applications that have been designed to perceive irregular beating patterns alarmingly create numerous wrong positive results and comprehensive results that lead to some people developing cardiac conditions.

Even though there are some traditional ways of tracking heart rate available like with the usage of Cardiac monitoring and Implantable cardiovascular electronic devices, these devices too have liked everything, their limits, which include absent real-time data and short battery life make them inefficient and hard to use. Now alongside, new tools and ways are being developed on smartphones that theoretically can record an Electrocardiogram or an ECG strip and make a fully automatic diagnosis. Now don’t get me wrong these are great features and are amazing tools for heart patients around the world but if they work. And that is exactly what the authors of this study went out to see exactly is the amount of accuracy for these devices, and do they work with people who have abnormal ECGs.

As part of the research, all the recordings made by the Smartwatches went to an Electrophysiologist, who then carried out a blinded investigation after which assigned each reading a label of AF, Absence of AF, or Diagnosis unclear. After that 100 randomly selected readings went to another and yet again Blinded Electrophysiologist and helped the researchers find out the extent of the agreement of the two observers.

The study found that roughly in about 1 out of 5 patients, the smartwatch failed to create an automatic diagnosis, and the chances of getting an incorrect but positive fully automatic AF reading were higher in patients with premature atrial and ventricular contractions (PACs/PVCs), sinus node dysfunction, and second or third-degree atrioventricular block. If we talk about patients with AFib, the danger of having a false negative reading of a missed AF was greater for people with ventricular conduction abnormalities (interventricular conduction delay) or rhythms controlled by a pacemaker.

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