A doctor is warning people to be cautious when using the new ECG app on the Apple Watch 4, saying it is not a diagnostic tool. The warning comes after several patients have called him in a panic because of the app’s results.
A cardiologist from Orange County, Dr. Brian Kolski, is warning patients to be careful when using the ECG app on the Apple Watch 4. Just last week, a healthy patient of his called him in the middle of the night in a major panic because he thought something's wrong after reading the results on the app. However, the results turned out to be normal when the doctor checked it.
But this patient was not alone. Evidently, since the unveiling of the app, the doctor has received over 20 panicked phone calls or emails from his patients who thought they were having an atrial fibrillation. Nearly all of these cases were either inconclusive or false alarms.
Apple unveiled the new ECG app for the Apple Watch 4 just this Dec. 6. According to Kolski, the company should have released the app in a more responsible manner, in that they should have told people how to use it and interpret the results.
While the company does have the said instructions online, he says that few people actually read such instructions online and that there have been cases of heart condition patients misreading the results. Furthermore, he explains that the app is mostly a fitness tracker and not a tool for diagnosis.
“You shouldn’t think something is wrong with you if your Apple Watch says that you are in atrial fibrillation. And on the other hand, you should not take a normal result from the watch as a way of clearing yourself,” Kolski said, adding that only medical-grade diagnostic devices can provide accurate results and that what people should be relying on is how they feel.
It’s not all false alarms and inconclusive results for the app, however, as there are already some instances in which it might have saved a life. One in particular is of 46-year-old Ed Dentel’s case, wherein the repeated warnings from the app prompted him to contact his doctor who eventually diagnosed him with atrial fibrillation.