Ed Dentel has become the poster child for the new ECG function of the Apple Watch. He installed the recent update that allowed this wearable to check the electrical activity of his heart and it immediately told him he had a problem.
At first he thought the new technology was faulty. Instead, the fault was his heart.
This fall’s Apple Watch Series 4 is the first with ECG (electrocardiogram). The software necessary to make this feature work didn’t debut until last Thursday, along with watchOS 5.1.2.
ECG functionality is enabled by electrodes in the Apple Watch’s back crystal and Digital Crown. When a user places their fingertip on the latter, it forms a circuit that allows the Watch to read their heart’s rhythm in just 30 seconds.
The promise is detection of atrial fibrillation (AFib) — the most common form or irregular rhythm. Clearly, it works.
One man’s Apple Watch ECG story
Ed Dentel, a middle-aged communications consultant from Virginia, installed the Apple Watch software update as soon as it became available. Of course, he immediately tested the ECG. Just as quickly, he was told he has AFib.
“The application on the launch sounded off right away with atrial fibrillation — not something I’ve ever heard of, but since I’m in pretty decent health and never had a problem before, I didn’t give it much thought. I figured something was glitchy, so I set everything down turned in for the night,” Dentel told ABC News.
He tried again Friday morning. “Right away: AFib. So I shut everything down and turned it back on and tried it again. Same result, same result, same result,” he said. He asked his wife to try it, and her ECG results came up normal.
After more self-tests, Dentel went to an urgent care center. They quickly gave him their own ECG test, after which Dentel was told “Yup, you’re in AFib. This thing may have just saved your life.”
Atrial fibrillation is the medical term for rapid or irregular beating of the heart’s atria. The problem brings an increased risk of heart failure and stroke.