Health features of Apple Watch expand to more Middle East countries

The Apple Watch has been growing in popularity that many more joined the wearables segment. Each year, Apple has been adding more health-related features but some required approvals from regulators.

The irregular rhythm notification feature on Apple Watch Series 3 or later also occasionally checks heart rhythms in the background and sends a notification if an irregular heart rhythm that appears to be atrial fibrillation (AFib) is identified.

When used with the ECG app, Apple made it easy to take an ECG reading without complicated machinery with the Series 4 and higher models.

While both features were released in Saudi Arabia (watchOS 6.2.5) and Bahrain (watchOS 6.2.8) as par of watchOS 6 updates, the release of watchOS 7 has added four more markets in the GCC to complete the rollout: Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, and the UAE.

Both health features have received approval to launch in these countries as medical devices by their respective public health authorities.

ECG on your wrist

ECG readings also normally require a full ECG machine and a visit to the doctor, which is far less convenient than a reading taken with the Apple Watch.

Electrodes built into the back crystal and Digital Crown on Apple Watch Series 4 and later work together with the ECG app to enable customers to take an ECG similar to a single-lead reading. To take an ECG recording at any time or following an irregular rhythm notification, users launch the ECG app on Apple Watch Series 4 and later and hold their finger on the Digital Crown. As the user touches the Digital Crown, the circuit is completed and electrical signals across their heart are measured.

After 30 seconds, the heart rhythm is classified as either AFib, sinus rhythm, low or high heart rate, or inconclusive. All recordings, their associated classifications, and any noted symptoms are stored securely in the Health app on iPhone. Users can share a PDF of the results with physicians.

ECG on the Apple Watch

The feature marks the first direct-to-consumer product that enables customers to take an electrocardiogram right from their wrist, capturing heart rhythm in a moment when they experience symptoms like a rapid or skipped heart beat and helping to provide critical data to physicians.

The idea is that you can take this information to your doctor, if the results are abnormal, and use it as a basis to discover if you have any larger issues at hand.

Irregular Rhythm in seconds

Using the optical heart sensor in Apple Watch Series 3 or later, the irregular rhythm notification feature occasionally checks the wearer’s heart rhythm in the background for signs of an irregular heart rhythm that appears to be AFib. It alerts the user with a notification if an irregular rhythm is detected on five rhythm checks over a minimum of 65 minutes.

To enable these heart features

  • customers are taken through an onscreen setup that includes details about who can use these features,
  • what the features can and cannot do,
  • what results users may get,
  • how to interpret those results, and
  • clear instructions for what to do if users are feeling symptoms that require immediate medical attention.
Afib notification on Apple Watch

The irregular rhythm notification feature also intermittently checks heart rhythms in the background, sending a notification if an irregular heart rhythm is identified that could potentially be atrial fibrillation (AFib).

Atrial fibrillation is a health condition that often goes undiagnosed, so ECG app and heart rhythm alerts on Apple Watch will be highly useful for detecting early signs of disease.

The ECG app and irregular heart rhythm notification feature help users identify signs of AFib, the most common form of irregular rhythm. When left untreated, AFib is one of the leading conditions that can result in stroke, the second most common cause of death around the world.

Blood Oxygen

If you’ve watched the recent September keynote where the new Apple Watch Series 6 was announced, the key new addition is the Blood Oxygen app.

Measuring blood oxygen with the Apple Watch Series 6 is done through the new Blood Oxygen app. It uses a series of red and green LEDs and infrared light to measure the amount of light reflected by the skin, with advanced algorithms using this data to calculate the color of the blood to derive the blood oxygen level. Bright red blood has more oxygen, while darker red blood has less.

According to the feature page for the Series 6 model, the blood oxygen app will be readily available across the GCC market (Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain) at launch. This is likely because it doesn’t require regulatory approvals for its usage.

Image Credits: Apple Newsroom

Author: Yasser Masood

Think of me as a grassroots community evangelist. Juggling social media while covering technology/digital trends across the Middle East and crossroads of society and culture, while unearthing other perspectives that pique my interests.

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