New Study Shows That Smartwatches Can Detect Arrhythmias In Children

In Education

Smartwatches have been found to be useful for detecting irregular heartbeats in children, according to research conducted at the Stanford School of Medicine. By continuously monitoring the wearer’s heart rate, smartwatches can help diagnose abnormal heart rhythms in kids. This discovery is significant as it shows that these devices are more effective compared to invasive traditional methods, which children may find uncomfortable.

Smartwatches can detect abnormal heart rhythm in children

The research revealed that Apple smartwatches were mentioned 145 times in medical records within a four-year period, leading to the identification of arrhythmia in 29 children. Smartwatches have demonstrated significant promise in detecting abnormal heart rhythms in children, as illustrated by a case in California where a young boy diagnosed a heart rhythm disorder by using his mother’s smartwatch to transmit data to his doctor during an episode.

Doctors face significant challenges when diagnosing cardiac arrhythmias in children. The current heart-monitoring devices, such as Holter monitors and event monitors, are not well-suited for children. Holter monitors are bulky and uncomfortable, while event monitors, though less invasive, often detach and irritate the skin.

Arrhythmias are unpredictable in children complicating diagnosis

The unpredictable nature of arrhythmias in children further complicates diagnosis. Even with weeks of monitoring, capturing a child’s erratic heart rhythm proves challenging.

A case study involving 15-year-old Connor Heinz from California exemplifies these issues. Connor experienced irregular racing heartbeats, and traditional adhesive monitors caused irritation. In response, Dr. Scott Ceresnak, the senior author of a relevant study, suggested using a smartwatch to record Connor’s heart rhythm during episodes.

Smartwatches face a limitation in their current use as their algorithms for detecting heart problems are not optimized for children, who exhibit faster heartbeats and different abnormal rhythms than adults. Dr. Ceresnak’s study highlights the potential effectiveness of smartwatches in detecting arrhythmias in children, emphasizing the necessity for developing specific algorithms tailored to the pediatric population.

Dr. Ceresnak and his team intend to conduct additional research to evaluate the efficacy of the Apple Watch in identifying heart issues in children.

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