Perform an electrocardiogram (ECG) with your Smartphone
Anyone with a smart watch will be able to perform a full ECG, at any time and from any location
The heart is the most important organ for living beings, among many other functions, it is responsible for pumping oxygen around the entire body and removing CO₂ from the lungs.
It is roughly the size of a fist and inside it we can find the muscle tissue that takes care of pumping blood all around the body. Together with the blood vessels, they form the cardiovascular system.
As well as oxygen, the blood also contains the necessary nutrients for the correct working of all of the cells that form our organisms. Blood distributes the elements required to maintain our immune system and prevent infections. It also transports the body’s waste products to the kidneys and liver, which take care of separating them and getting rid of them.
Despite being a vital organ for life, carefully studied by medical professionals, heart diseases have multiplied over the last century. In particular in industrialized countries as a result of the gradual change in diet and lifestyle. Each year, 7 million people die from heart disease globally; it is the most common cause of death in Europe and the United States.
In order to reduce the number of heart attacks, it is important to regularly measure blood pressure, especially in women. According to doctor Xavier Ruyra Baliarda, cardiology specialist, “women still don’t have the same opportunities to diagnose and treat heart diseases as men”.
This is where technology comes into play. To measure your heart rate, in recent years, new wearables have emerged which are the ideal accessory for ECGs used by professionals. This is the case with COPCAR, developed by Spanish researchers, capable of reading your heart activity 24 hours a day.
But it isn’t the only product on the market, you can also measure your blood pressure using the selfie camera on your smartphone with the Alivecor app. And, although this technology helps many people each day, the latest discovery has emerged thanks to the work of Madrid-based cardiologist, Miguel Ángel Cobos.
A WATCH OR AN ELECTROCARDIOGRAM?
Specialist heart doctor, at the San Carlos Clinical Hospital (Madrid), Miguel Ángel Cobos, has discovered that smart watches are capable of replacing a conventional electrocardiogram.
This new discovery, which enables us to find out the heart rate, was a fortuitous finding. Doctor Cobos had bought the Apple Watch as a gift for his wife, when he was “playing” with the wearable, he observed its level of precision.
The discovery was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, a well-known internal medical journal about research and reviews published by the American College of Physicians.
The smart watch already had its own application to register heart activity and classify it as bradycardia, tachycardia or atrial fibrillation, but it was incapable of detecting the signs of a heart attack. However, thanks to Cobos’ new method, you can perform an electrocardiogram (ECG) which, interpreted by a health professional, does enable a heart attack to be diagnosed with rates of reliability similar to devices in medical centers.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
The smart watch is first positioned on the left wrist and then on the leg, in order to achieve the limb leads. Finally, it is positioned on the thorax in order to measure the precordial leads; this way, it is possible to perform an ECG similar to the conventional electrocardiogram.
BENEFITS OF THE SMARTWATCH
The wearable is capable of obtaining results similar to a device that only weighs 30 grammes. In addition, it can prevent many visits to the emergency department since the patient can measure the levels themselves. Finally, it offers an advantage in terms of clinical decision-making time, when the patient is in a delicate or extreme situation, such as suffering a heart attack, for example.
However, despite these advantages, the results need to be interpreted by a cardiologist.
“It is a truly relevant finding, and one which demonstrates that technologies applied to health advance at a tremendous speed and can play a vital role in care, diagnosis and monitoring”, regional health minister for the Community of Madrid,Enrique Ruiz Escudero.