Kardia Band becomes first medical-grade accessory for Apple Watch

AliveCor’s KardiaBand has received the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearance in the US making it the first medical-grade accessory for the Apple Watch. The device allows users to capture EKG readings in just 30 seconds. A first version was released in Europe last year but its only now that its available in the US.

Although pretty accurate for a wrist-based heart rate monitor, the Apple Watch is fairly limited when it come to keeping tabs on your ticker. The watch uses green LED lights paired with light‑sensitive photodiodes to detect the amount of blood flowing through your wrist at any given moment. New features introduced this year allow it to flag up potentially dangerous readings, but the device is not FDA approved for use to detect normal sinus heart rhythms and atrial fibrillation.

AliveCor’s Kardia Band goes further and has official clearance. Its new Apple Watch band comes with a built-in EKG sensor. You press on the band with your thumb to take a reading. The accompanying Apple Watch application then processes the data.

“The average consumer doesn’t know what a normal sinus rhythm looks like or what atrial fibrillation looks like. Yet the FDA has cleared our individual algorithms,” said Vic Gundotra, CEO, AliveCor.

“The consumer can have confidence that this is FDA-cleared. And frankly, we have the clinical studies to prove it.”

The app also allows you to record voice memos which can then be sent along with the EKG reading to your doctor. AliveCor says that the app can also connect to Apple’s Health app, so users can integrate their EKG readings into established fitness data like step count and weight.

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AliveCor is also introducing something called SmartRhythm. This feature continuously monitors heart rate data captured by the Apple Watch and lets you know if this does not correlate with your physical activity. If SmartRhythm detects that your heart rate is unusual it will prompt you to take an EKG test to get a more accurate reading.

“KardiaBand paired with SmartRhythm technology will be life-changing for people who are serious about heart health,” Gundotra added.

“These capabilities will allow people to easily and discreetly check their heart rhythms when they may be abnormal, capturing essential information to help doctors identify the issue and inform a clear path of care to help manage AFib, a leading cause of stroke, and other serious conditions.”

The private medical health company headquartered in Mountain View, California, also sells a number of similar products. This includes cases for smartphones that allow users to get EKG quality heart rate readings by placing their fingers on metallic plates.

The AliveCor Kardia Band costs $199 and can be ordered from alivecor.com or Amazon. In addition to the purchase price, the band requires a $99 subscription to AliveCor’s premium service. The gadget may be FDA cleared but you certainly don’t need a recommendation for a doctor to use it!

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