Apple Watch’s AFib History feature gets the FDA nod as a reliable tool

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Since 2022, the Apple Watch has come equipped with an atrial fibrillation feature, for which the FDA gave the green light just hours before Apple made it public. Since then, it has been praised for saving lives, even in cases where people had no clue they had heart issues.ย 

The Afib History feature checks pulse rate data collected by the Apple Watch’s photoplethysmography (PPG) sensor to spot irregular heart rhythms linked to AFib. It then gives users a retrospective estimate of their AFib burden, indicating how much time they have spent in AFib during previous periods of wearing the Apple Watch.

How it works? The Apple Watch’s PPG sensor uses green LEDs and light-sensitive photodiodes to track changes in the amount of blood flowing through your wrist at any moment. When your heart beats, it sends a pressure wave through your blood vessels, causing a quick bump in blood volume as it passes by the sensor.

By monitoring the change in blood flow, the sensor catches individual pulses as they hit the periphery, allowing it to measure beat-to-beat intervals. The AFib History feature then looks at these intervals to figure out how much time you have spent in AFib during the past week of wearing your Apple Watch.

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If you have been diagnosed with AFib, own an Apple Watch, and want to use this feature, just follow these steps:

  1. Grab your iPhone and open up the Health app.
  2. Tap on Browse, then tap Heart.
  3. Look for AFib History and give it a tap.
  4. Hit Set Up, then tap Get Started.
  5. Enter your Date of Birth.
  6. When it asks if you have been diagnosed with AFib by a doctor, just say yes and hit Continue.
  7. Keep tapping Continue to get more info on AFib History, the kind of results you might see, and other lifestyle factors.
  8. And that is it! Tap Done to finish up.


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