How useful is the smartwatch ECG?

Trends Cardiovasc Med. 2020 Oct;30(7):442-448. doi: 10.1016/j.tcm.2019.10.010. Epub 2019 Oct 31.


Apple launched a novel feature of the Apple Watch (Apple Inc.) series 4 that enables consumers to record a rhythm strip and assist with self-diagnosis of atrial fibrillation (AF). The watch is paired with an app that provides automatic classification of the rhythm. Ability of the algorithm to identify AF has received Food and Drug Administration clearance. Given increasing use of direct-to-consumer devices, important questions regarding the utilization of such devices and their features in clinical practice arise. It is unclear how the data obtained from these devices can be optimally incorporated in patient care and what it means for patients. Safety and security of using wearables are also of concern. Furthermore, whether data generated from the Electrocardiogram (ECG) feature will be beneficial to public health is to be determined. We discuss possible uses and challenges of Apple's (Apple Inc.) newly launched ECG feature and review an upcoming trial looking at clinical applications and outcomes using this technology. We also review the literature on the Kardia (AliveCor Inc.) mobile and smartwatch ECG technology and briefly discuss Apple Watch irregular heartbeat notifications along with the Apple Heart Study.

Keywords: Apple Watch; Atrial fibrillation; iECG; mHealth.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Atrial Fibrillation / diagnosis*
  • Atrial Fibrillation / therapy
  • Computers, Handheld*
  • Electrocardiography / instrumentation*
  • Heart Rate*
  • Humans
  • Mobile Applications*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted*
  • Telemedicine / instrumentation*
  • Telemetry / instrumentation*
  • Time Factors