The Apple Watch Series 4 is allowing all users (U.S. only at first) to take their own electrocardiogram (ECG) at any time in about 30 seconds. Apple claims that this is the first over-the-counter ECG that can detect signs of irregular heart rhythm.
Various folks from the medical community, including several Canadian doctors, said that this new feature could create a whole new level of anxiety for unnecessary testing and panic attacks. Unfortunately, this could create an upsurge in the number of patients visiting the emergency room. This is one fear that Dr. Samuel Vaillancourt of Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital shares:
“The fear is we could end up with a lot of over treatment, over call and people waiting in emergency departments for no good reason.”
In a statement, Montreal cardiologist Dr. Christopher Labos said that systematically screen large populations for atrial fibrillation is not “terribly productive.” In an article, McGill University’s Office for Science and Society wrote:
“The danger with any new medical technology is that in the enthusiasm to be an early adopter, for what is an admittedly cool gadget, we risk engaging in a population-wide screening strategy that is decidedly flawed.”
Labos said that false positives are the main concern among consumers who are running these tests on their own.
[via National Post]