HeartBeam has snagged a patent for a 12-lead electrocardiogram (ECG) smartwatch that can detect heart attacks and complex cardiac arrhythmias. This was approved by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
The current crop of smartwatches that have similar functionality only pack a single lead ECG. The more leads, the better. So your Apple Watch or Samsung Galaxy Watch is not capable of detecting complex heart conditions beyond Afib. Single lead ECG technology is simply not able to do this.
The California-based digital healthcare company says the market segment they are looking at is several times larger than the cardiac arrhythmia detection market. There are lots of people out there with coronary artery disease who are at high risk of heart attack.
In fact, the leading cause of death in the United States is heart disease. It causes around 700,000 deaths per year in the country, ahead of cancer, stroke and other conditions.
The ultimate aim is to bring access to 12-lead ECGs outside of a medical setting. Heartbeam technology will be based on 3D vector ECG built into smartwatches that anyone can wear.
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Mind you, there are over-the-counter devices that offer this type of functionality. But nothing that comes in the form of a smartwatch. Such a device would eliminate the need for a dedicated ECG device while offering a 12-lead ECG capability. No word yet on when the Heartbeam watch might become available. Potentially, the company could outsource the technology to mainstream wearable brands.
The press release does not mention whether the monitoring would be on-demand or passive. Something that keeps an eye on your heart health passively in the background would, of course, be many times more useful.
While you are waiting for this to hit the market you might want to check out our pick of wearables that come with an ECG sensor. Devices from AliveCor, QardioCore and Withings top this list. Then there are the likes of Apple, Samsung and Fitbit that also offer this type of functionality.
Most of these devices will not do a perfect job. However, they may warn some people who do not know they are living with a heart condition that they potentially have a problem.
Keeping tabs on your heart is important. In the coming years, it will become easier than ever to monitor your ticker.
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