Tag Archives: EKG

Detecting Abnormal Heartbeats with Your Apple Watch

Patients have a new tool to help identify a type of abnormal heart rhythm. The newly released Apple Watch Series 4 enables users to take an electrocardiogram (EKG) from their wrist to check for atrial fibrillation (A-Fib). The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cleared the device for this purpose late last year. Since then, we’ve heard a lot of questions from patients about it. Christopher P. Rowley, MD, electrophysiologist with Lexington Cardiology, had some answers.

Photo Courtesy: Apple

Q: What is atrial fibrillation?
A: Atrial fibrillation is an abnormal heart rhythm in which the top part of the heart quivers instead of beating effectively. The danger is that blood there could become stagnant and clot, then leave the heart and cause a life-threatening stroke or embolism.

Q: How does the new Apple Watch detect atrial fibrillation?
A: The Apple Watch uses a unique method where sensors will allow users to record a heart rhythm. The watch can send them a notification if it detects an irregular rhythm that appears to be atrial fibrillation. Previous versions of the Apple Watch have detected for heart rate, too.

Dr. Christopher Rowley

Q: What does this new technology mean for patient?
A: The idea of having patients monitor heart rhythms at home is not new. We often give patients monitors attached to their chest with stickers or a patch to wear at home. They record their heart rhythm when they’re having symptoms. Then, we correlate the symptoms with the results from the monitor.

The watch aims to do the same thing. It will be worn most of the day. It may even detect an abnormal heart rhythm the patient doesn’t know about. It means we’re empowering consumers to present data to their doctor rather than just starting to figure out a diagnosis during a visit.

Q: What should you do if your watch detects an abnormal rhythm?
A: Call your doctor. It’s also important to point out that the tool is not intended for people who have already been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, or as a substitute for seeing your doctor on a regular basis.

Q: Will it detect all abnormal heart rhythms?
A: No. The watch only checks for atrial fibrillation.

Q: How do you treat atrial fibrillation?
A: The treatment is different for each patient. It ranges from simple to complex medications, to an ablation where we go into the heart to identify the bad electrical signals and make them go away.

Know When to Call 911

Calling 911 can be vital when someone is suffering a heart attack or cardiac arrest. That’s because paramedics have the ability to begin caring for a patient on the way to the hospital. They can also communicate with doctors at the hospital while en route so that the patient receives the most timely treatment possible. Calling 911 is an important factor in achieving the best possible outcomes.

In this WIS-TV interview with Judi Gatson, Lexington Medical Center ER doctor Wesley Frierson and Lexington County paramedic Micah Norman talk more about the importance of calling 911 and demonstrate the tools EMS crews use in ambulances, using a life-like mannequin called “Hal.”


Lexington Medical Center wants you to “Just Say Know” to heart disease. Learn more about this campaign and take a heart health quiz at LexMed.com/Know.

Take 5 for Heart Health: Call 9-1-1, Learn CPR

When someone is having a heart attack, clinicians say it’s best to Call 9-1-1 for an ambulance instead of driving the person to the hospital yourself. That’s because there are tools in the ambulance that can begin treatment before arrival at the hospital. While you’re waiting for the paramedics, you can perform CPR. In this “Take 5 for Heart Health” segment from WIS-TV, LMC ER nurse Shannon Turner talks about the important information an ambulance can transmit to the ER when a patient is on the way and clinical nursing supervisor Lindsey Sturkie demonstrates the proper way to perform CPR.

Here are a few notes from Shannon and Lindsey:

~Calling 9-1-1 brings the emergency providers to you. Paramedics can assess the patient, perform an EKG and start the treatment that the hospital will continue.

~Paramedics send EKG results from the ambulance to the ER and call in a radio report with patient symptoms and vital signs. Then, the ER can alert the catheterization lab and cardiologists about the patient’s upcoming arrival. With heart care, every minute counts. Time is muscle.

~To perform CPR, put one hand on the middle of the chest at the bottom of the rib bone. Place your other hand on top, linking your fingers. Press down hard – 2 inches – at a rate of 100 compressions per minute. A proper pace would be to the tune of the song “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees. Experts say that mouth-to-mouth resuscitation or checking the pulse are no longer required.

~CPR will help to open and close the heart valves and chambers until paramedics arrive.

If you would like to learn Citizen CPR, come to Lexington Medical Center’s FREE Heart Fair on Sunday, March 1 from Noon – 4:00 p.m. at the DoubleTree by Hilton on Bush River Road. Learn more at LexMed.com/Take5.

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