Apple Watch's lifesaving powers could extend to preventing heart failure

Apple Watch ECG feature
(Image credit: iMore)

Your Apple Watch may well be able to detect the Left Ventricular dysfunction of the heart, potentially helping to identify congestive heart failure sooner.

Congestive heart failure can lead to other heart issues. One fundamental problem is that patients with cardiac dysfunction often don't report any symptoms, making diagnosing the problem more challenging. Now, a study suggests that a single-lead ECG like the Apple Watch could be enough to help with early diagnosis.

Lifesaving technology

The study, first spotted by MyHealthyApple, involved more than 2,400 people across 46 U.S. states and 11 other countries. First, 125,610 ECGs were collected, with the data processed via an AI algorithm. Then some science happened.

"The AI algorithm detected patients with low EF(ejection fraction) with an area under the curve of 0.885 (95% confidence interval 0.823–0.946) and 0.881 (0.815–0.947), using the mean prediction within a 30-d window or the closest ECG relative to the echocardiogram that determined the EF, respectively," MyHealthyApple reports.

While that won't mean a lot to most of us, the critical part is pretty straightforward — the findings concluded that Apple Watches could identify patients with cardiac dysfunction even if they are asymptomatic.

The results of the study were published in Nature Medicine this week.

Apple Watches already help to save lives thanks to their heart rate and blood oxygen monitoring, not to mention fall and crash detection. Only this week, we reported on a teen who used his Apple Watch to call for help after falling 150ft, while reports of wearables alerting their owners of possible health conditions crop up with increasing regularity.

Apple recently released a new crop of Apple Watches. The Apple Watch Series 8, Apple Watch Ultra, and refreshed Apple Watch SE are all available to buy now and feature potentially lifesaving technology.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.