A doctor discovers a “lifeguard” procedure to do an electrocardiogram with a “smartwatch”

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Miguel Ángel Cobos, a cardiologist at the San Carlos Clinical Hospital in Madrid, has discovered a procedure that allows complete electrocardiograms with a “smartwatch”, specifically with an Apple Watch of the 4 and 5 series. The reliability index “practically identical to those they are done regularly in health centers “and their use” could save lives, “Cobos explains to this newspaper.

The mechanism, which was presented on Wednesday morning, is “quite simple,” according to the cardiologist. It consists of placing the watch on the left wrist, on the leg and at different points of the thorax to record the precordial leads and thus obtain a complete electrocardiogram. With all this information, which is recorded in an application on the mobile phone, a doctor can detect heart disease such as a heart attack or arrhythmias.

The time it takes to perform the electrocardiogram with this procedure and the traditional one is practically the same. «The good thing about this is that we are not talking about a technology that has few people. About 15 million people have an Apple Watch series 4 or 5 and increasingly they can use this procedure because several brands have developed the power that allows an electrocardiogram to be performed on watches, ”he says.

Although at the moment the information collected by the “smartwatch” can only be seen by the patient on his mobile, if he is taught to a professional, he will be able to make a diagnosis. “In the future, most likely, this will be linked to an artificial intelligence program that will be able to perform emergency diagnoses,” Cobos forecasts.

In addition to being beneficial for the patient who has a “smartwatch” that allows an electrocardiogram, anyone can use the procedure if they are close to someone who has this technology on them.

Help in diagnosis and time saving
Cobos says that “it can be really useful and can help the doctor a lot at the time of diagnosis.” «For example, if a patient comes to the office and tells me that he thinks he has arrhythmias, I have to put a holter (a monitor that detects heart rhythm irregularities). The problem is that it can only take 24 hours and if during that time you don’t suffer any, I can’t diagnose you, ”he explains.

By having a «smartwatch» capable of performing an electro, the patient can register the arrhythmias with it and go directly with the information that reflects the pathology to the consultation.

This alternative also saves time for clinical decision making in a delicate or borderline situation, such as a possible heart attack. Cobos indicates that the situation in a practical case would be the following: «Imagine that I or any doctor is an AVE and a passenger begins to feel bad and notices palpitations. In this case, the professional can check what it is and request that the train stop at the nearest location if the patient is having a heart attack.

In the case where there is no possibility of having the presence of a professional, you can always perform an electro the same patient and send the information to the doctor via WhatsApp or mail. “Then, instead of calling the emergency room without knowing what happens, the patient can inform the emergency services that he is having a heart attack and that he is confirmed by a professional, which will cause them to send the ambulance before,” says the cardiologist.

Cobos says he reached this conclusion, published in the scientific journal Annals of Internal Medicine, in an “anecdotal” way. The first to try it was him. He then performed electrocardiograms on some members of his family and finally validated the procedure in patients with pathologies. .


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