This could be a lifesaver – the Fitbit’s electrocardiograph finally gets permission in NZ, reports PAT PILCHER.
If you’ve been coveting a fitness tracker/smartwatch with a built-in ECG but are not an Apple user, we’ve some excellent news for you. Fitbit has finally received regulatory approval to enable the ECG built into its latest smartwatch/fitness tracker, the Fitbit Sense.
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The Sense is a competent fitness tracker that tracks a bunch of health-related stats. Now it’s even better thanks to the added ECG function. ECG is short for electrocardiograph, a piece of medical equipment that tracks the electrical activity that makes your heart pump blood around your body. Regular electrical activity sees heart muscles contract/expand and heart valves open/close, so your body’s organs and muscles get the oxygen they crave, while carbon dioxide is removed and exhaled.
An estimated 33.5 million people worldwide (myself included) suffer from what is known as atrial fibrillation, or Afib. This is where the electrical impulses get muddled, and the heart’s pumping action is compromised. Longer-term, Afib can lead to strokes and other medical complications. Because of this, having a smartwatch that can accurately measure and record the electrical activity of your heart can make a huge difference, providing a treasure trove of information for doctors and cardiologists.
Until recently, The highly capable Apple watch was the only choice with integrated ECG capabilities. Now, the more affordable Fitbit Sense (which works with both Android and Apple devices) has had its ECG approved and enabled. Sense owners should notice an ECG app is now available in the Discover section of the Fitbit smartphone app, which will install on their Bluetooth paired Sense when selected.
The app is a doddle to use. Tapping the Sense’s right-hand side button to wake it up, simply swipe right-to-left on the Sense’s screen, and the ECG icon should be visible. Firing up the App invites the user to hold the top left and bottom right corner of the Sense with their index finger and thumb for 30 seconds.
While the ECG reading is underway, it is recommended that the user sits as still as possible. Provided the heart rate is within a specific range, the Sense should track it and report back on the user’s heart rhythm. If all is well, there should be a normal sinus rhythm. If an abnormal rhythm gets detected, the Sense will inform you.
Either way, a more detailed overview of the test results can be found in the Fitbit app’s Discover section. Tapping Get Started will show you see your ECG test and the time/date. From here, you can get a more detailed explanation of what was detected. This can also be download as a PDF formatted heart rate graph, which can be shared with your GP/cardiologist should the need arise.
If your Sense watch ECG reading picks up Afib, you’ll want to talk to your doctor. Afib aside, the ECG function lets you record heart activity when needed instead of waiting to visit your doctor when everything has already settled down.
As handy as the Sense’s ECG function is, some disclaimers apply. First and foremost – it cannot detect a heart attack. Fitbit’s own fine print says that when experiencing chest pains, contact emergency services first before reaching for the Fitbit app.