Apple has finally received permission to launch its ECG app and irregular heart rhythm notification feature for Indian Apple Watch users. From tonight, the feature is live for users of Apple Watch Series 4 with a software update. The new Apple Watch Series 5, which starts selling from September 27, will ship with the features.
“The process was working with the authorities to submit the appropriate certifications and clinical data to make sure we stick to the medically required standards, which we did,” Dr Sumbul Desai, Apple’s VP of Health, explained to indianexpress.com. She said the other part of the process was to ensure the users got an “amazing experience” when it was launched in India, and they were ready to answer any questions customers might have. “We wanted to make sure we had all of the pieces in place before we launched in India,” she said, adding that the process of getting the permission was relatively smooth in India.
Apple Watch ECG: Here is how it works
Available with the watchOS 6 update that goes live on September 19, the ECG app and irregular heart rhythm notification (IRN) feature will help users identify signs of AFib, the most common form of irregular rhythm and the leading cause of strokes. While the ECG is a user-initiated process on the Apple Watch, the irregular rhythm notification feature checks heart rhythms in the background and alerts users if an irregular heart rhythm is identified. The ECG app classifies the reading as sinus rhythm or AFib and gives a full reading which can be shared with medical professionals if needed.
Apple is categorical that the Watch cannot alert of a possible heart attack. Reiterating this, Dr Desai said: “We would never want this to replace a physician. This is really meant to be users as augmentation our supplementation to a physician.” She said given the prevalence of heart disease and AFib in India, the feature could have a “significant impact”.
“And we really hope to be able to allow our customers to use it, and then share that information with the doctors. But hopefully, they know something about their heart health sooner and can avoid any potential conditions.”
The ECG feature was launched with the Apple Watch Series 4 which started selling in 2018. However, the feature, which had FDA clearance, was rolled out only in the US then. Electrodes built into the back crystal and Digital Crown of the new Apple watches work together with the ECG app to enable customers to take an ECG. Users have to open the app on the watch and hold the crown and side of the watch together for 30 seconds to create a circuit and get the reading.