Swiss Physicians favor Apple Watch ECG readings over that of other consumer devices

place finger on Apple Watch digital crown to get an ECG recording

Apple introduced the ECG feature with Apple Watch Series 4 in 2018. Over the last three years, numerous studies have looked at the Apple Watch ECG feature’s accuracy and explored various use cases that could be deployed using the single lead ECG feature of smartwatches.

A new study conducted by researchers at the University Hospital Basel, Switzerland, examined numerous smartwatches with single-lead ECG capabilities.

The objective of the study was to compare the accuracy of cardiologists, internal medicine residents, and medical students in detecting atrial fibrillation via SL-ECGs (Single lead ECG)  from five different smart devices (Apple Watch, Fitbit Sense, KardiaMobile, Samsung Galaxy Watch, Withings ScanWatch). 

Furthermore, Participants were also asked to assess the quality and readability of SL-ECGs.

The study invited 450 medical researchers and physicians at major Swiss hospitals to participate in an online survey. Participants were asked to classify up to 50 SL-ECGs (from ten patients and five devices) into three categories: sinus rhythm, atrial fibrillation or inconclusive. This group of physicians and medical students interpreted a total number of 10,865 Single-lead ECGs. 

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The classification results received from the physicians were then compared to the diagnosis via a near-simultaneous 12-lead ECG recording interpreted by two independent cardiologists. The participating physicians were also asked for their preference of each manufacturer’s SL-ECG.

Results: Sensitivity and specificity for the detection of atrial fibrillation via SL-ECG were 72% and 92% for cardiologists, 68% and 86% for internal medicine residents, 54% and 65% for medical students in year 4-6 and 44% and 58% for medical students in year 1-3. Results show that interpreting Smart watch ECGs to detect Afib and other conditions requires experience.

The study results also found that SL-ECGs from the Apple Watch were considered to have the best quality and readability by 203 (45%) and 226 (50%) participants, respectively.

Apple Watch’s sensors and associated algorithms for interpreting arrhythmias are one of the best in the industry.

If you want to purchase a smartwatch or a consumer device to monitor heart health issues, the Apple Watch should be on the top of your list!!

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Sudz Niel Kar
I am a technologist with years of experience with Apple and wearOS products, have a BS in Computer Science and an MBA specializing in emerging tech, and owned the popular site AppleToolBox. In my day job, I advise Fortune 500 companies with their digital transformation strategies and also consult with numerous digital health startups in an advisory capacity. I'm VERY interested in exploring the digital health and fitness-tech evolution and keeping a close eye on patents, FDA approvals, strategic partnerships, and developments happening in the wearables and digital health sector. When I'm not writing or presenting, I run with my Apple Watch Ultra or Samsung Galaxy Watch and closely monitor my HRV and other recovery metrics.


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