A Watch That Could Save Your Life

The AliveCor KardiaBand
Source: Slash Gear

Wearable technology is moving along at a breakneck pace. It seems like only yesterday that the most impressive thing you could have on your a watch was a primitive calculator. And what a thrill that was. But today, your smartwatch can make and receive calls, send text messages, and even let you play games at a site like Spin Palace Online Casino. Depending on the watch, of course.

This technology has gone one step further, and now, your smartwatch could potentially save your life. It sounds dramatic, but happens to be true. The add-on accessory in question is called the AliveCor KardiaBand, and although the name will have grammar autocrats’ everywhere cringing in their seats, the device certainly is an impressive one.

Heart Analysing Power

The AliveCor KardiaBand is compatible with an Apple Watch, and simply slots into the already existing watchband. Once active, the device will send detailed information via electrocardiogram to a watch application. Information given includes a breakdown of essential information, including irregularities in the heartbeat, as well as potassium levels in the blood.

The whole process is completed without using needles of any kind, which is normally how such tests are done. This alone will have many rejoicing, given how unpopular needles are in the general populace. But just how important is this functionality, and how valuable is the information being sent?

Life Saving Information

A condition called hyperkalaemia refers to when there is too much potassium in the blood. This may not sound serious, but it can actually be life threatening. The increase in potassium can have adverse effects on electrical signals in the heart, which can ultimately have fatal results. So of course it is best to have this condition treated sooner rather than later. The only kicker is that detecting such a condition is very difficult. At least under normal circumstances.

Vic Gundotra, CEO of AliveCor, revealed the immense amount of research done in order to develop the device. He stated, in a recent press release, that work was done with Mayo Clinic, which involved developing a system capable of detecting potassium levels in the blood without having to use a needle. Apparently this involved 2 million EKGs, 4 million potassium values, and 23 years of data collection. The result was an algorithm capable of detecting potassium levels, via an EKG system. Impressive to say the least!

EKG’s of the future
Source: Pixabay

But Is It Accurate?

Worth noting is that the US Food and Drug Administration has not yet certified the device for its intended purpose. Though this may come some way down the line. Also worth noting is that there has been previous controversy in the medical industry about using EKG systems to detect hyperkalaemia. It seems to be an on going discussion as to just how accurate the results are, and if they are reliable.

Previous studies dismissed EKG systems as ineffective, although the studies were admittedly small, and limited. When asked about the topic, professor of internal medicine at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, William J. Brady, had a number of things to say. He first declared that detecting hyperkalaemia via EKG is possible, and that he personally has sent patients for treatment based on EKG readings alone. He stressed that the real situation with EKG systems is that physicians simply aren’t trained to read results in a way that effectively diagnoses hyperkalaemia. But according to Brady he puts full faith in such systems.

Either way, the device remains uncertified, and it seems it will still be some time until it is available to the public. Until then, needles will still be required for detailed blood analysis, and hyperkalaemia detection, but it is proof that once again, technological advances such as a watch could save your life. If not now, in the future anyway!

Sources:

https://www.theverge.com/2018/3/12/17109036/apple-watch-kardiaband-alivecor-ekg-reader-hyperkalemia-health-artificial-intelligence