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New Apple Watch band can predict heart problems

KardiaBand gives you an ECG through your thumb

New Apple Watch band can predict heart problems

The Apple Watch’s latest band isn’t luxury leather or a Milanese loop, it’s unassuming plastic, but the sensors inside it could save your life. 

The KardiaBand, made by AliveCor, works together with the tracker already built into the Apple Watch 3 to detect dangerous arrhythmia, such as atrial fibrillation, which can lead to a stroke.

Built-in sensors constantly monitor the rhythm of your heart and will notify you with an electrocardiogram, or ECG, reading when they detect anything unusual. Pressing your thumb or finger to the metal panel on the band will give you an on-the-spot ECG reading.

Already FDA approved in the US, the KardiaBand is now available to buy in the UK from AliveCor’s website for £199. There is also the KardiaMobile, which works the same way as the band, but doesn’t require an Apple Watch. It loses a few features in the process, but it’s half the price at £99.

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What else can the KardiaBand do?

The KardiaBand has a range of other features, but whether you can access them depends on your subscription level.

There are basic and premium subscriptions. Basic is free and premium is £10 per month or £100 for the year.

When buying the KardiaBand you get a free 30-day trial for the premium subscription and you can cancel at any time. Interestingly, in the US, a premium subscription is required.

The table below shows the difference between the two.

Feature Basic Premium
Records heart rhythm anytime Yes Yes
Instant ECG analysis Yes Yes
Detect normal heart rhythm of atrial fibrilation Yes Yes
Email and print ECG recordings Yes Yes
Monthly reports for your doctor No Yes
Blood-pressure tracking No Yes
Weight and medication tracking No Yes
Unlimited cloud storage No Yes
SmartRhythm monitoring for Apple Watch No Yes

Unfortunately, in the UK blood-pressure tracking isn’t set up, but all of the other features are there.

SmartRhythm combines the data collected by the band and the Apple Watch to predict your heart-rate pattern. If the prediction differs from your heart rate then SmartRhythm will recommend you do an ECG. AliveCor says that ECGs captured during these irregular rhythms can help better manage your heart health.

Send your data to a doctor

The monthly reports can be forwarded to your doctor free of charge, or you can pay £5 to have your data sent to a cardiologist for analysis.

This charge is separate from the subscription, and you don’t need to be a premium member to have an expert take a look at your ECGs. You will receive a response within 24 hours.

Should anyone not use it?

Not quite – you shouldn’t use the KardiaBand if you have an ICD or a pacemaker, and the band isn’t designed for kids.

Torn between wearables? Find out whether to buy a smartwatch or a fitness tracker.

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