New Apple Watch Helps Seniors
Updated: Feb 12, 2019
Usually, the latest Apple products are great for the young and tech savvy. However, the latest model of the Apple Watch was designed to appeal to an older demographic as well. The Series 4 Apple Watch includes new features designed to detect falls and heart problems.
Clearly, Apple is moving toward preventative health and expanding its target audience to include a wider range of ages. The fall prevention and electrocardiogram apps help bring health-monitoring apps beyond young and fit people to include baby boomers who want to keep themselves and their parents healthy.
How Does it Work?
The fall-monitoring app uses sensors in the watchband to track and record the user's movement and note if the user becomes unsteady. This feature becomes automatically enabled for any user who inputs his age as 65 or older. If the watch detects a fall, it will send the user a notification. If the person does not respond within a minute (by tapping a button on the watch to deactivate the signal), emergency services will be alerted that the user needs help. Apple gives a minute to respond to help prevent false alarms, such as dropping the watch.
This new feature could be a valuable resource for older ones because falls can cause fractured hips and head injuries. Even the fear of falling can prevent some older ones from living on their own or participating in activities. Each year, 3 million older ones go to the emergency room for fall injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Having a device like this could dramatically improve someone's life by removing much of the worry about falling and getting emergency help quicker.
Apple Watch has another new app: ECG monitoring. This app uses sensors in the wristband to monitor the user's heartbeats and send alerts if it gets too fast or too slow. The app is designed to detect atrial fibrillation, which is a problem with the speed or rhythm of the heartbeat.
The watch's sensors can detect a heart rhythm in 30 seconds. It allows the user to note how they are feeling at that moment - lightheaded, winded, or full of energy. Apple hopes that these features will engender better conversations between patients and doctors about symptoms and heart patterns.
There are some concerns that panicked Apple Watch users will flood emergency rooms every time they get a notification of an irregular heart beat. Some people may try to self-medicate based on the results and notifications from their Apple Watch. However, these self-diagnoses may be incorrect and could cause more harm than good.
The Food and Drug Administration has cleared these new apps but has not approved them. This means that the new apps have not faced rigorous testing (such as studies or trials) to provide evidence of the apps' benefits. There is no data to prove that these apps will be beneficial to users.
Currently, there are various health-tracking apps. However, the future is looking toward wearable health technology products that track data to get ahead of health crises. Likely, more apps will become available to track vital signs to help prevent medical emergencies.
The new Apple Watch represents the beginning of this new technology. As medical technology moves forward, the accuracy will improve as will the accessibility and affordability of this technology.
Technology is way ahead of medical practice. ~ Eric Topol, cardiologist
Source: Kaiser Health News