Why doctors are worried about the Apple Watch EKG

Why doctors are worried about the Apple Watch EKG

(electronic music) – If you own one of the
newer Apple Watches, the Series 4, it has this dormant feature that was flipped on last year. This watch can now perform an electrocardiogram test, or EKG. It measures the electrical signals that your heart uses to
regulate your heartbeat. The point is to detect signs
of atrial fibrillation, which is a form of irregular heartbeat that could cause a
stroke or heart failure. This is actually a big step for Apple. You might think of this watch
as a notification machine for fitness buffs who
want to obsessively track every single step that they take, but with EKG, it’s trying to
become something different. Not just a fitness tracker,
but now a health monitor, but that change, it opens
up a host of new questions. – Do doctors think it’s a good idea? Are people gonna use this the right way? Are we just giving people
all this information that they don’t even understand? – Oh, we asked our science reporter Angela to tackle those big
scary questions for us. – Hey Deeder. – And later, we’re going to fire up a more professional EKG at a medical lab, but before all that, here’s
what this new EKG feature actually looks like. (soft music) The EKG process itself is pretty simple. There are two sensors on the watch, one on the back and one on the crown. When you put your finger on the crown, you’re completing a
circuit from your finger to your heart and back to your wrist. That way, the watch can measure your heart’s electrical pulses. After 30 seconds, it’ll
tell you if the upper or lower chambers of your
heart are out of sync and if they are, it’s
time to go see a doctor. In my case, I’m seeing a sinus rhythm and that should mean no AFib. but I’m gonna go see a doctor anyway. (soft music) We’re here at the University
of California San Francisco to get an expert opinion. See, there’s already been
a little bit of blow back about this new EKG feature. Some critics have argued that it could lead to false positives or
become a self diagnosis machine, so we’re here to do what we expect a lot of Apple Watch owners are gonna do which is go ask a doctor
about their results. Dr. Greg Marcus is a specialist in heart arrhythmias at USFS. First, he and medical
assistant Vanessa Mallet hooked me up to a lab grade EKG. It provides 12 different
readings of heart activity instead of just the single snapshot that you get on an Apple Watch. – And it’s just already going. You have what’s called a sinus arrhythmia, which is a sign of good health. – [Man] Dr. Marcus walked us through some of the differences
between the Apple Watch EKG and this one. Basically, this thing will
give you lots more data to help pinpoint issues
that you might suspect based on the watch’s readout. It’s meant to be a two step process. The watch flags a possible problem and the doctor investigates further. – So if there’s an early beat for example, the 12 lead EKG will
give us more information as to exactly where that’s coming from. – [Man] How that two step
process will work in practice? It’s not clear yet. The feature is too new. Right now Dr. Marcus isn’t really sure what to make of it. – We still don’t know yet how frequently that Apple Watch by
itself will be sufficient versus how often physicians
will not be able, not feel confident in that reading and feel that some additional monitoring needs to be done. As a researcher, it’s fascinating and a great opportunity. As a clinician, it’s worrisome. – The worrisome thing, the
precision of the Apple Watch is only part of the story. In theory, the benefit of the Apple Watch is that it’ll catch these
lurking heart problems that you would otherwise never know about. But in fact, cardiologists
don’t recommend using it to screen for heart problem
unless you’re already at risk. – My name’s Seth Landefeld. I’m professor of medicine and chair of the Department of Medicine
at University of Alabama at Birmingham. – Dr. Landefeld is a
member of the US Preventive Services task force. They evaluate various screening tests to see if the benefits outweigh the risks. Recently, they looked
at whether EKG screening would help in people who are healthy and otherwise at low risk. They looked at it for
cardiovascular disease, bad stuff like heart attack or stroke. – There’s no evidence
there that the benefits outweigh the harms and so therefore we recommended against using ECG screening for people at low risk for
cardiovascular disease. – And for AFib, the condition
Apple Watch screens for, similar situation. There’s just not much evidence
that EKGs are worth it if you don’t already
have these other symptoms but why not just do it anyway to be safe? Because there’s a risk
of a false positive. EKG itself is safe, but in an
absolute worst case scenario, there could be a false
positive that leads to a treatment that’s unnecessary and unsafe. – Well if it led to further
tests that somebody said, jee, it looks like you should
undergo bypass surgery and somebody underwent bypass surgery, we know that the average
mortality from bypass surgery is one or two percent. – There’s also the issue of the users. AFib studies focus on people 65 and older because they’re the
people who are most likely to have heart problems. They’re not the people most
likely to have Apple Watches, which makes Dr. Marcus worried that now all the wrong people have their own EKGs. – The individuals that tend to
purchase these Apple Watches may be those who are
already health conscious, tend to be fit, tend to
probably be quite healthy, whereas the people that really probably have the most to benefit from
atrial fibrillation screening will tend to be the older individuals who may be less tech savvy, those who aren’t as
concerned about their health. – All this means that EKG might be harming all these low risk
people with all this data that might lead them to self diagnose and get freaked out for no good reason. For them, all this might start with an irregular heartbeat alert. – They check their EKG,
they don’t actually have atrial fibrillation, they
have an irregular rhythm for some other reason
that’s totally benign. – In reality, they’re totally okay, but now they’ve gotten
the scary notification that something might be
wrong and they feel nervous. – They make an appointment with me, spend time with me and our nurses who otherwise could be helping people that clearly need help. – [Angela] Again, the Apple Watch is new, but overtime, false flags put at strain to our entire healthcare system. It’s a classic case of data overload. – So with all of that in mind, what should a healthy
person use this feature for? According to Dr. Marcus, maybe nothing. – If someone is younger than age 65, they don’t have high
blood pressure, diabetes, they’ve never had a stroke,
they don’t have heart failure, they don’t have other
problems with their arteries. In general, I would say ignore it in the absence of symptoms. – In the end, there’s one thing that all doctors can agree on. If you’re concerned
about your heart health, be good to your heart. Don’t smoke, get plenty of exercise, and keep an eye on your blood pressure. You don’t need an EKG
feature on your Apple Watch to do any of that and your
doctor will love you for it. – See how your rhythm
speeds up a little bit and then it slows down? People who have more of
this sort of variability tend to live longer. – Oh really? Okay, well great.

100 thoughts on “Why doctors are worried about the Apple Watch EKG”

  1. Hey all, a clarification: Dr. Landefeld, and the studies he mentioned, didn't evaluate the Apple Watch EKG feature specifically — his concerns are about EKGs in general. Those concerns are worth considering, regardless of the brand of EKG device. But, only time will tell whether the Apple Watch specifically will have the effects that Dr. Landefeld and Dr. Marcus are wondering about.

  2. Drs act like they know so much and nobody else could ever know anything. I'm not saying this is cool, I still have yet to see a good apple product, but drs are pretty ignorant.

  3. No physician will open you up until proper labs and scans are done! They will not go by a result from Apple Watch! Thank you people ! Great video

  4. Or it tracks your heart rate to get possible reaction data at your position for stuff you like revolutionizing how ads are sold.

  5. when ordinary people are empowered with knowledge and methods to be independant – then of course some people are worried 🙂

  6. Summary of video:

    Bunch of hipsters acting like the Apple watch with a built in EKG is a concern but you really know their gushing and waiting for the Apple watch with built in fecal analysis.

  7. I completely disagree. If people want to monitor their heart rhythms, blood pressure, lung sounds… etc… and then use that information to govern whether they go into the dr or not…. BRAVO… What the doctors are really worried about, is losing revenue . medical device manufacturering is a multi billion dollar a year industry for every company that does it. TRILLIONS of dollars if you add them all up. The last thing in the world that a person like a cardiologist who makes 17000 dollars per week wants… is anything that has the potential to take away from that pie… And a 280$ nurse robot on your arm, does that. "all of the wrong people"… kids drop dead playing sports every year from heart failure. These "experts" definately are not talking at all like they have the health of the individual in mind. the potentional for good, by far out weighs the bad. I just cant wait until apple figures out how to get blood sugar or cholesterol screening from sweat ^.^

  8. Sorry but the video has ended wrong and incomplete. It is all resumed by precision of diagnosis from the EKG device. how many 9s it has on 99,9… precision.

  9. That's so stupid because doctors conduct more tests. It's an early warning device. This video is stupid and contradicts itself

  10. This also leads to people completely ignoring the warning signs and the warnings from the watch "Because I'm not old".

  11. Funny how the real important question is ignored. Which parties are going to buy the EKG information off of Apple. I'm sure some insurance companies are dying to know who is at risk of getting a heart attack.

  12. apple: let's add this useless feature and make it cost $1000++++ without consulting doctors. also, let's not pay any taxes on the profits.

  13. If you're concerned just get with your PCP. If they think you need help they'll send you to a specialist. I don't see how this is a controversial thing.

  14. saying " your concerned about your heart health just be good to your heart is the same as saying " if your afraid to get in an accident just dont drive"

  15. Doctors won't RELY on a patients apple watch.
    They would perform more tests.., before making any rash decisions (surgery etc)

  16. I’m more worried about my health data being used against me by insurance companies in the future. It’s a real risk, look it up. This video had the opportunity many times to bring that up but they didn’t.

  17. BS… I'm 53, and have had two episodes of A-fib.  The first time it had happened, I didn't know what was going on and waited 3 days before going to the ER.  I could have developed a clot during those 3 days of waiting.  Had I had the iwatch at that time, I would have gone straight to the ER.  In contrast, yes, it could lead to over-diagnosis for healthy people.

  18. You all are forgetting that the cardiologist said that sinus arrhythmia is a sign of good health…. in what flipping world is that true? You should srs consider a new cardiologist if this guy isn't just a paid actor that is absolutely clueless

  19. "It is a sign of good heart health" doctor not just health, ekg doesn't show health

    You might drop dead tomorrow from an aneurysm or a stroke with a perfect sinus rhythm.
    Or you could die tomorrow from your stage 4 brain tumor.

  20. interviews literally one doctor
    "why doctors are worried about the Apple watch EKG"

    you didn't even spell ECG right

  21. In 6:45 I have a debates 🤕just measure the blood sugars, it is thirty unit 🤒, but the apple 🍏 watch not open that function in Hong Kong , so the electronic heat detector isn’t a special selling point for five hundred Swiss France

  22. are they recommending not to use it at all or to just not take the results too seriously? cause they making it seem like a bigger problem than it really is

  23. So they’re saying those that get irregular rhythm are going to just walk straight into heart surgery???
    😂😂 they just mad people don’t gotta pay $4500 everytime they have an anxiety attack or think something is wrong and there isn’t.
    **ALWAYS see your GP first with any issues

  24. Well, if the failure of the Apple Watch's oleophobic coating seen so clearly at 4:49 is any indication, perhaps there is reason for concern. 😏

  25. This was kind of a ridiculous video verge… It’s up there with your worst.
    Is this guy meant to be a specialist? He doesn’t sound like it with his nonsense scaremongering.

  26. True story… the Head of the CDC Heart Heathy program was a friend of mine… and a picture of health… he died suddenly… from a heart attack.

  27. they call it an ekg in the medical world. idk why, it's just easier to say. ecg, ekg, they know what it means. i learned abt this in class lol

  28. Why the hell would anyone go do bypass surgery just because Apple Watch said it??? Of course, there would be a full ECG check about the symptoms. Let me put this another way. Those who already have problems may go to the doctors less frequently but they still need to go. However, those who don't have the problem may never go in which case the apple watch may flag them out. Of course, it won't be accurate and patients also know that. They won't be relying fully on Apple Watch's ECG and undergo a bypass surgery. Come on guys, at least give a reasonable argument.

  29. Hmmmmmm, whom should i listen to? Apple iWhores in the comments or a doctor practicing in their field for more than 10-15 years?

  30. A person won't go for a bypass simply because of what the watch reports, moreover no doctor is going to do a bypass without doing more rigorous tests. The watch will just signal that maybe there is a problem, do more tests to be sure. I am not too concerned about the false positives – what harm does an additional visit to doctor do other than some money. Better safe than sorry. A false negative would worry me a little though. Also, I want to buy such a watch for my father, who already has a heart condition, and is 60years + of age. The video doesn't focus too much on usability for such people.

  31. If the people telling you not to do something have some interest in you not doing it (money) it comes over as ingenuine

  32. And God forbid that we are able to properly self diagnose ourselves… We might not have to pay for it then. Who wants that?

  33. I guess never mind all the stories of apple watches saving people’s lives because it makes them go to the doctor with the results

  34. a person who has had a heart attack gets angina, had triple bypass surgery… is in danger… and that person seems like a perfect candidate for an apple watch. I'm disappointed that this video doesn't address those who could really benefit from this helpful technology.

  35. How about this for an unintended side effect: young people are introduced to health diagnostics through their apple watch. This leads to curiosity about science, anatomy, physiology, bio-metrics. They enroll in college to study science/biology/medicine. They graduate and staff our hospitals. They invent new tools, strategies, and practices that benefit society… This type of technology is a foundation for future machine learning, pattern recognition, and sensory data acquisition. Why don't y'all make a video that excites people to strive for advancement and progress? Instead you get a doctor to say, "people are fearful and unintelligent, therefore we recommend they don't concern themselves with this data tool."

  36. Apple phones cause eye seizures for me and strain and pain after 5 minutes. What happens if I want to buy a watch.. and I’m already tachy just from anxiety watching the video watch. I’d worry about worse health conditions from the radiation risk they don’t tell you about.

  37. Well that was a terrible piece of journalism: the "oh no, your watch said you have a problem, schedule surgery immediately!" scenario is utterly brain-dead, as several people have mentioned below, as should have been immediately picked up by the interviewer, or at least analysed critically, as it's just light years away from any current reality.

  38. The only good thing this new fangled watches that can check your heart rate or something is Time Of Death. Like a real life case a suspect got caught with murder because the alibi was destroyed by Apple watch heart rate/movement sensor. Police got the victim TOD when they asked Apple for the victim's data. A record of sec by sec of your life fading away is written on your wrist. Well, on a server in the clouds. Big Bro..ehem Apple Watch is looking out for you. This is the future.

  39. I know of young people who have died because of some underlying chest or heart problem no one really knows what going on inside and without this simple fun productivity device some can get a a little push……. wow your heart not beating correctly go check it out. A simple check that might save your life. With that some people would even go see a doctor then the doctor can future some examination for a comprehensive conclusion. Don’t knock the tech it’s saving lives. Or it has the potential to.

  40. hummm, all you guys use the same doctor? on one video he thinks its great, on the other he has doubts. Emmm, try diffrrrent hopsitals. Just saying

  41. Uh no..you simply don't just get bypass surgery cause an Apple watch told you that your heart's messed up…you'll go through a heap of other screenings before bypass is needed..that doctor is just fear mongering…so in conclusion..if the watch tells you somethings up..actually listen to it and go get yourself checked..better safe than sorry….also just cause your "young and Fit" doesn't mean you cant get heart problems..that shit could appear outa nowhere, and the 400$ investment on your wrist might just save your ass by notifying you early

  42. I don’t have a fib. What I do have is tachycardia and a couple different forms of Dysautonomia. I have been stable for years with medication. When I started having symptoms again I went to my cardiologist. Hmmmmm Ekg was fine in his office and so was the other tests. But he explains that it’s just a snapshot right when he has those electrodes on me. He sent me home with some instructions to pay more attention when I noticed symptoms. See if I could find a pattern. Well I had been wanting a Apple Watch I got one. Well I noticed the tachycardia was happening after eating. It was also happening later in the day. So he agrees I needed further testing and places a month long monitor on me. So the watch helped him and me both realize I needed some further testing. He was happy I got it. Said it’s a great tool to help me and him figure all this out. He said he’s betting I just need a second daily dose of my meds. They’re not lasting the full 24 hours. Or I might need a little dose increase. He wants to make sure though hence the heart monitor. Before I didn’t realize it was happening later in the evening only and after meals. I thought it was happening more often then it was too. I think it’s a great tool for people like me. If they use it as a tool along with more precise testing at their doctors office.

  43. Doctors are just worried these iDiots will panic for having a supposedly "irregular heart rhythm" LOL. The stupidity of these people cannot be underestimated

  44. I’m glad they made this video, but I wish they were more direct in saying, “we’re not staffed to take on the number of patients we may be getting due to the results on an Apple Watch” staffing, is the real issue, but it’s not just Apple users, it’s the aging population, more nurses and doctors will be needed

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