European Heart Journal: Apple Watch ECG detects signs of coronary ischemia missed by hospital ECG

Since the Apple Watch added the ECG app with the Series 4, numerous stories have surfaced about how the app has contributed to saving people’s lives. Now, a new article from the European Heart Journal tells the story of an 80-year-old woman in Mainz Germany whose Apple Watch detected evidence of a heart condition missed by a hospital ECG.

The woman arrived at University Medical Center Mainz complaining of chest pain, irregular heart rhythm, and lightheadedness. At the hostile, doctors performed a traditional 12-channel ECG, which revealed “no evidence for ischemia.”

The patient then showed doctors the results of ECG tests that she took with her Apple Watch, which included “tracings with marked ST-segment depression.” In these results, the doctors did see evidence of myocardial ischemia. The patient was transferred to the catheterization lab which showed “a left main stem stenosis and a left anterior descending/diagonal bifurcation lesion.”

Thus, the patient was treated with “coronary artery stenting” and left the hospital the next day. The Mayo Clinic describes myocardial ischemia as:

Myocardial ischemia occurs when blood flow to your heart is reduced, preventing the heart muscle from receiving enough oxygen. The reduced blood flow is usually the result of a partial or complete blockage of your heart’s arteries

The article from the European Health Journal concludes that the Apple Watch can be used to detect myocardial ischemia:

The development of smart technologies paves the way for new diagnostic possibilities. In the case of the Apple Watch, after the mobile application is installed, the records an ECG when a finger is placed on the watch’s digital crown. A 30-s tracing is stored in a PDF file that can be retrieved from the application.

Thus, the Apple Watch may be used not only to detect atrial fibrillation or atrioventricular-conduction disturbances but also to detect myocardial ischemia. An apple a day may keep myocardial infarction away.

You can read the full report from the European Health Journal here.

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