Samsung’s Galaxy Watch will soon ask users to check if something more than newfound love is sending their heart a-fluttering. The watch is joining other wearables from the likes of Google and Apple that let users track if they experience any periods of irregular heart rhythm.
On Wednesday, Samsung announced that soon, the UI 5 Galaxy Watch update will include new heart monitoring features to tell if users are in atrial fibrillation, otherwise known as AFib. Samsung told Gizmodo the new feature will come packed into the built-in Health Monitor app and should be available sometime this Winter, though there isn’t an official release date.
The upcoming One UI 5 Watch OS update will combine with existing electrocardiogram monitoring to monitor for AFib. While the phone is active, the app will analyse pulse rate data. If it detects any irregular heart rhythm, the watch will send users a notification to take an ECG test by placing their finger on the top outside button. According to Samsung, the app won’t notify users for every episode of slightly irregular heart rhythm. The app will “opportunistically” record pulse rate data when users aren’t active.
Google’s fitness-centric Fitbit devices introduced similar heart monitoring technology last year. Google’s system claims to use the existing ECG monitoring and an algorithm-based approach to assess heart rhythms while users are asleep or still. Apple Watches also check for irregular rhythms and notify users about potential periods of AFib and log their AFib history.
AFib is described as an irregular, often overly-rapid heart rhythm that can potentially lead to blood clots. These clots can potentially lead to a stroke or heart failure, though the issue is how often they appear. Any scan of a predetermined length could miss these random periods of arrhythmia, making a continuously worn device like a smart watch an ideal monitor.
The feature is specifically designed for users 22 years or older, and it’s also also not intended for those who regularly deal with arrhythmias that aren’t necessarily AFib. Like Google has previously mentioned with its Fitbit watches, Samsung also warned users that the ECG app isn’t an actual method of diagnosing any real medical issue. Instead, the company described the feature as for “general wellness and fitness purposes only.” In that way, you really shouldn’t take any info from the app as a sure sign of any medical distress and instead contact a real medical professional or use an actual device meant to continuously monitor for irregular heart activity.
Samsung announced it received FDA clearance for its new heart rhythm notifications back in May. The feature was likewise recently approved by regulators in the company’s home country of South Korea. Samsung said heart monitoring will be available in 11 other markets outside the U.S. and Korea, including Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, most of Western Europe, as well as several countries in Central and South America. The full list of available countries is available on Samsung’s announcement page.
Like its competition in wearables, Samsung has been promoting its health features with a long-sought Peloton integration alongside it finally implementing its temperature sensor on the Galaxy Watch 5.
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Editor’s Note: Release dates within this article are based in the U.S., but will be updated with local Australian dates as soon as we know more.
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