Apple Watch’s health monitoring feature is reportedly causing anxiety among users. A new study published this week showed that the feature has been sending an unusual number of people to the hospital after noticing abnormal pulse reading on their watch.
According to the study, only around 10 percent of people who went to see a doctor at Mayo Clinic actually needed to. So, what happened to the rest of them? Apparently, the heart monitor feature in the Apple Watch gave false information about their heart rate.
The sturdy further found out that home health monitoring devices such as the Apple Watch can overstretch the healthcare system, study author Heather Heaton, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine said in an email per The Verge. Of course, this is not good considering the fact that it could take up the time of both patient and time, which could have been used doing other things.
Patient’s health records covering a six-month period from December 2018 to April 2019 were scanned by Heaton and the study team. Offices in Arizona, Florida, Wisconsin, and Iowa were scanned with the term “Apple Watch” during the period in question. This period is significant considering the fact that it was after Apple launched the heart monitoring feature to detect abnormal heart rate and after publication of a study to track how well the watches could detect atrial fibrillation.
The outcome of the scanned records showed that of 264 patients who claimed their Apple Watches flagged a concerning heart rhythm, only 41 explicitly mentioned getting an alert from their watch. Half of the patients according to the study already had a cardiac diagnosis, including 58 who were previously diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. Around two-thirds had symptoms, including lightheadedness or chest pain.
After visiting their doctors, only 30 patients in the study got a cardiac diagnosis. What that means is that most of the worrying heart monitor data according to the study, were probably false positives. Of course, false positives meant the patients did not have heart-related conditions; yet this could lead to stress and anxiety.
“It is hard for a user to ignore an alert that they could have a serious medical condition,” said Kirk Wyatt, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Mayo Clinic and author on the study, in an email to The Verge.
With millions of people using or depending on heart monitoring features to check the state of their heart at home, it is not impossible to have cases like this. The Apple Watch may of course, not be the only guilty party here–the possibility of other watches giving false positives cannot be ruled out.