A new report from The Verge takes a look into some concerns about the Apple Watch ECG feature from two doctors. They believe that more data isn’t necessarily better, and explain how they think the ECG app could cause problems for healthy Apple Watch users as well as the healthcare system.
The Verge’s Dieter Bohn and Angela Chen dug into the idea that Apple Watch’s ECG feature could cause some problems as the wearable gains more robust health features.
Bohn even had a 12-lead electrocardiogram taken as he talked with Dr. Gregory Marcus at UCSF about the ECG app on Apple Watch.
One of Dr. Marcus’ concerns is that most Apple Watch users will tend to be younger and healthier, while the people who could benefit most from something like ECG readings on Apple Watch probably don’t have one.
He thinks that ECGs on Apple Watch can make healthy individuals worry unnecessarily and also take up medical professionals valuable time when they could be seeing patients who have serious health problems.
Here’s his advice:
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 [Apple Watch ECG] in the absence of symptoms.
While we have already heard a powerful story about how the Apple Watch ECG app has come to the rescue, Dr. Marcus and Dr. Landefeld would likely consider those edge cases.
Dr. Seth Landefeld of the University of Alabama at Birmingham is a member of the US Preventative Task Force. They recently looked at whether electrocardiograms are helpful for low-risk individuals. Here’s the conclusion they came to:
There’s no evidence there that the benefits outweigh the harms, and, so therefore we recommend against using the ECG screening for people at low-risk for cardiovascular disease.
How about you? Do you think the ECG has caused unnecessary concern about your heart health, or have you found it valuable? Let us know in the comments below!