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The next Apple Watch may have a built-in EKG heart reader

Your next Apple Watch may double as an electrocardiogram (EKG) heart monitor.

According to Bloomberg sources, the built-in sensor would allow for on-demand EKG readings which could pave the way for the watch to detect heart abnormalities such as atrial fibrilation. The user would be required to squeeze the Watch’s frame with two fingers from the hand that is not wearing the device. The device would then pass an imperceptible current across the person’s chest to track electrical signals in the heart.

The Apple Watch is pretty accurate for a wrist-based heart rate monitor. It uses green LED lights paired with light‑sensitive photodiodes to detect the amount of blood flowing through your wrist at any given moment. But the company has been keen to make its device more useful in detecting health issues. The EKG monitor would build on features introduced with the latest WatchOS update that allow the watch to flag up potentially dangerous readings.

Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets

Apple Watch users can get EKG readings now with the FDA approved AliveCor Kardia Band. This medical grade accessory comes with a built-in EKG sensor. You press on the band with your thumb to take a reading and the accompanying Apple Watch application then processes the data.

It is not clear whether the Apple Watch with a built-in EKG heart reader would also require FDA clearance. The Cupertino company has avoided involving regulators in the past, but the company is participating in a pilot program that speeds up approval of digital health tools.

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