While AliveCor’s KardiaBand has been used as Apple Watch straps capable of detecting irregular heartbeats using electrocardiograms (EKGs) for a while now, it turns out that they can also serve another service potentially vital to a wearer’s health: detecting potassium levels without the use of needles and blood tests.
According to research presented by AliveCor CEO Vic Gundotra at the American College of Cardiology conference in Florida on Sunday, the KardiaBand can use the same EKG tests meant to detect heartbeats in order to find indications of hyperkalemia, a condition which shows an abnormally high amount of potassium in an individual’s bloodstream. In showing evidence of hyperkalemia, the KardiaBand can thus indicate that the user could potentially be suffering from things like diabetes, chronic kidney disease, or dehydration without them knowing it beforehand.
So how does this connect to the EKGs? Well, an overabundance of potassium could interfere with the electrical activity of cells, including those in the heart. Gundotra said that, as a result, this can change an EKG’s electrical reading of the heart, thus inadvertently indicating the potential presence of hyperkalemia. This has become such a concentration of AliveCor that the company has worked with the Mayo Clinic in order to develop an EKG algorithm allowing for the KardiaBand to directly detect hyperkalemia as opposed to discovering through other readings. Via an extensive bout of research using EKG samples gathered over the last 23 years, AliveCor found that their AI could accurately detect hyperkalemia between 90% and 94% of the time.
As cool as all this is, the US FDA has yet to clear the KardiaBand as a reliable means of diagnosing hyperkalemia. However, it’s certainly a step in the right direction and is sure to help tons of Apple Watch users learn more about the state of their bodily health.
[via The Verge]