Apple Watch Chief Jeff Williams Says ECG App is 'Huge Opportunity' to Empower People About Their Health

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Dec 6, 2018.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Apple today announced that its ECG app will be available on the Apple Watch Series 4 today as part of watchOS 5.1.2. Alongside that news, TIME has published a new interview with Apple's CEO Tim Cook and COO Jeff Williams.


    The article begins with a story about 46-year-old Texas resident Kevin Foley, who was having trouble breathing normally during a movie. Fortunately, since he was wearing an Apple Watch and participating in the recent Apple Heart Study, he was alerted to signs of an irregular heartbeat and went to the emergency room.

    At the hospital, doctors hooked Foley up to an ECG machine and found signs of atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat that can lead to stroke and other potentially fatal complications. Foley spent the next few days in the hospital while doctors worked to return him to a normal sinus heart rhythm and is doing fine now.

    "Apple's largest contribution to mankind will be in improving people's health and well-being," Cook boldly proclaimed.

    "We have tens of millions of watches on people's wrists, and we have hundreds of millions of phones in people's pockets," said Williams. "There's a huge opportunity to empower people with more information about their health. So this is something we view as not only an opportunity, but a responsibility of ours."

    Williams also appeared on CBS This Morning today to talk about the ECG app. The YouTube video can only be streamed in the United States.

    The report says a traditional hospital ECG is often referred to as a "12-lead" machine, as its 10 different electrodes provide information on 12 different areas of the heart. The new Apple Watch is the equivalent of only a single-lead device, but research suggests the ECG app is still very accurate.

    In a press release, Apple said the accuracy of its ECG app was validated in a clinical trial with around 600 participants. The study found the ECG app on Apple Watch demonstrated 98.3 percent sensitivity in classifying atrial fibrillation:
    "The FDA has been very rigorous, and they should be," said Williams, referring to the Apple Watch's heart health features.

    The article goes on to claim that some cardiologists and other experts have raised concerns that the Apple Watch's ECG feature is "unnecessary for the general population" and "could cause problems," including false positives.

    "If everybody with an Apple Watch and an alert from an Apple Watch went to a heart-rhythm doctor that was super comfortable with this, then I think it would be O.K.," said Dr. John Mandrola, a cardiac electrophysiologist. "But there are going to be millions of people going to the doctor that in many cases will be just fine."

    Apple responded that no medical test is 100 percent accurate, so some false positives are inevitable, according to the report. Moreover, the Apple Watch will only alert users to a potential heart-related problem if it detects five instances of what it considers a cardiovascular episode, including arrhythmia.

    Importantly, in an internal document obtained by MacRumors, Apple cautioned that the ECG app is "not intended to be a diagnostic device or to replace traditional methods of diagnosis," and "should not be used to monitor or track disease state or change medication without first talking to a doctor."

    To take an ECG reading from the Apple Watch, users will need to place a finger on the Digital Crown while wearing the watch. The reading is completed in 30 seconds, allowing users to determine whether their hearts are beating in a regular pattern or if there are signs of atrial fibrillation.

    Irregular heart rhythm notifications will also be available on Apple Watch Series 1 through Series 4 models in watchOS 5.1.2.

    Apple says the setup process for these heart health features will include details about who can use the features, what the features can and cannot do, what results users may get and how to interpret them, and instructions for what to do if users are feeling symptoms that require immediate medical attention.

    watchOS 5.1.2 should be available through the Apple Watch app on a paired iPhone around 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time as usual. At launch, the ECG app will be limited to the U.S., but Apple is likely working to get regulatory clearance elsewhere.

    Article Link: Apple Watch Chief Jeff Williams Says ECG App is 'Huge Opportunity' to Empower People About Their Health
  2. JWD macrumors member

    Jan 20, 2012
  3. Joe Rossignol Editor

    Joe Rossignol

    Staff Member

    May 12, 2012
    Yep - US only at launch. I added a sentence to clarify this.
  4. AngerDanger, Dec 6, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2018

    AngerDanger macrumors 68040


    Dec 9, 2008
    Well, he was hardly going to say, "The ECG barely works, and even if it did, I'm still not sure why anybody would actually use it. What are they even for? Getting hearts or something? The thing is, most people already have hearts."

  5. groadyho macrumors 6502


    Apr 26, 2018
    Tbh, this is just the beginning. Pretty cool stuff. Hypochondriacs unite
  6. Gix1k macrumors 68030


    Jun 16, 2008
  7. Yptcn macrumors 6502a


    Aug 24, 2012
    One question , for an american living abroad , what will happen ?
  8. sirozha macrumors 6502a

    Jan 4, 2008
    Sadly, this is a gimmick feature. The only thing it will do is freak people out and send them to cardiologists. I think cardiologists will get the most gain from this feature, as the number of people trying to see a cardiologist will increase exponentially. The EKG with two leads is useless. It tells you nothing. It's not bad for you; it just gives you no reliable information (good or bad). People who would take their EKG with an Apple Watch and pay attention to the results are already concerned about heir heart heath. Those who are not concerned, will not even waste time on this feature. Those who are concerned need to see a cardiologist and not rely on this gimmick.

    Even when you see a cardiologist, the real 12-lead EKG tells you very little. I am in the process of being seen by a cardiologist the first time in my life. I had the real 12-lead EKG done, and it came back absolutely normal. Because of the symptoms that I have, the doctor ordered an Echo Cardiogram, which came back normal as well. Then, he ordered a stress test, and saw something that could point to a Coronary Arterial Disease, it is inconclusive, so more testing is needed. The next step is a non-invasive CTA (CT Angiogram), which has a 91-95% accuracy rate. After that, the most conclusive test is the the intrusive angiogram with a scope inserted through the arteries into the heart. That's how much testing is required to conclusively diagnose a heart condition.

    An Apple Watch with two leads for EKG is a toy. I hope Apple will sell more Apple Watch Series 4 because of this gimmick, but personally, I chose to keep my Apple Watch Series 3. Frankly, I would prefer Apple improving the heart-rate monitor reliability in the Apple Watch, as the existing one has very low accuracy.
  9. keysofanxiety macrumors G3


    Nov 23, 2011
    If I recall correctly, isn't ol' Jeff the guy who resembles a cardboard cut out of himself? Not quite the face for an enthusiastic sports device.

    I remember during a keynote he demonstrated the heartbeat monitor and it showed as 0. Then Tim pulled a string behind him and he slowly blinked. His mouth opened to say "works... perfectly...", then Phil carted him off to a smattering of confused applause.
  10. RedGala macrumors regular


    Jun 17, 2015
    Just be patient and see what happens. Let's not forget that Apple hires people with medical degrees.
  11. Mtmspa macrumors 6502a

    May 13, 2013
    What are your qualifications for this rant?
  12. now i see it macrumors 68030

    Jan 2, 2002
    ERs, prepare to get flooded with false alarms
  13. sirozha, Dec 6, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2018

    sirozha macrumors 6502a

    Jan 4, 2008
    Right: 1st Amendment. Qualifications: Being able to type.
  14. ericgtr12 macrumors 65816


    Mar 19, 2015
    The accuracy here is surprising, no wonder the FDA approved. I can't wait to call my doctor 3 times a day asking "is this normal!?".
  15. Eriamjh1138@DAN macrumors 6502


    Sep 16, 2007
    BFE, MI
    Doctors always scare us with scaring ourselves.

    Being empowered is about being in control and there’s always someone willing to find the negative in giving people control.

    There will Always be stupid people. But I would rather have a few false positives and save a few lives than block useful tech and let people die.
  16. groadyho, Dec 6, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2018

    groadyho macrumors 6502


    Apr 26, 2018
    While I totally agree with ya'll on this, let's remember this is in its infancy. As time goes by sensors will get better. They'll detect all sorts of stuff via a watch, or other type of gadget.
    Additionally, if it saves even 1 life it did its job and proved it's worth. Btw I hold an LPN license here in Co. I don't use it or work in the field but hold one none the less. Couldn't get an RN at the time because of cost.
  17. Hodar1 macrumors member


    Nov 30, 2011
    In the middle of the Rocky Mountains, for now.
    No, 2 leads is most definitely NOT a toy. The 12 lead EKG provides a far greater level of resolution, as to the particualr areas of your heart that are having issues. But the fact that there is an issue can be determined with a 2 lead EKG.
    Tests have shown that the percentage of false positives is very low. If your watch tells you that you have fibrillation issue; you had damn well best get to see a MD. There is a very low percentage chance, that this will be a false alert. Now, you may not chose to use it; and that is your choice.

    But for others, this is a fantastic opportunity to not only measure a "snapshot", but to have a record of snapshots over multiple times. If you have afribulation issues, they may not always manifest themselves at the Dr's office. That why heart patients are given portable units. This is a portable unit, and the patient can take a reading at any point in time, when he feels "unwell". This can be periods of fatigue, nausea, weakness, unable to catch his breath, etc.
  18. citysnaps macrumors 601

    Oct 10, 2011
    San Francisco
    Just curious...are you a medical doctor or medical research scientist?
  19. WBRacing macrumors 6502a


    Nov 19, 2012
    Haha! It is funny reading about Execs waxing lyrical about a technology that I would wager a small amount they couldn't even begin to explain the details of. Not past the marketing bumpf. I'd be much more interested to hear recongised independents detailing the benefits.
  20. sirozha macrumors 6502a

    Jan 4, 2008
    Have you read the FDA conclusion?
  21. Jim Lahey macrumors 6502

    Jim Lahey

    Apr 8, 2014
    Great Britain
    None. He just doesn’t like it therefore other people having the choice to use it makes it a gimmick.

    Welcome to 2018. Expect more next year.
  22. sirozha macrumors 6502a

    Jan 4, 2008
    I bought a SEIKO watch in 1994 that had a built-in blood pressure monitor. It was a disaster.
    No, but I have half a brain.
    --- Post Merged, Dec 6, 2018 ---
    Never mind. I like it. I want Apple to sell more Apple watches. Really. I do. I'm a shareholder, and anything helps right now.
  23. IdentityCrisis Suspended

    Sep 9, 2018
    The FDA would not have approved it if it was a gimmick feature and not work.
  24. yaxomoxay macrumors 68020


    Mar 3, 2010
    As someone that had open heart surgery, I strongly resent this statement. Is the AW going to be THE main check-up tool? No. But it provides a level of flexibility and continuous availability that was not possible before - at least not without some "unnatural" intrusion such as a band. This is just a watch with an important functionality added.
    And heck, I'd rather bother my doctor with a few false positives than risk missing an important true positive. You know, I pay him and he accepts the payment, which will include this type of services.

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