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Avera Medical Minute: Electrophysiologist answers questions about smartwatches to monitor your heart

Published: Feb. 25, 2021 at 5:23 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - February is Heart Month. Electrophysiologist Dr. Jonathon Adams discusses heart health in this question and answer session.

Q: What is your role at North Central Heart Institute at Avera Heart Hospital?

A: A Cardiac electrophysiologist is really just a heart rhythm specialist. We deal with patients that have heart rates that are too fast too slow, or irregular.

Q: And so you help keep people’s hearts in rhythm. What are the biggest issues that can arise, by being what’s called out of sinus rhythm?

A: Well the most common that we see is atrial fibrillation, and that can cause symptoms that can cause your heart to get weak. And then there’s also an increased risk of stroke.

Q: So you don’t prescribe generic fitness trackers to monitor a patient’s rhythm, you use specific medical devices?

A: Right, so we’re gonna prescribe something like an FDA-approved heart rhythm monitoring technology if we’re going to prescribe some sort of device to record a patient’s rhythm. That’s usually the type of monitor, it’s like a halter monitor. And several monitors that are patches that can go on for several weeks.

Q: What about smartwatches or wearable tech?

A: The latest generation of Apple Watches can read your EKG. Essentially you hold your watch up and you touch your finger to the dial, and it gives you a reading on your EKG and you can save that on your phone or text it to your doctor I believe if as a PDF file. There’s another company out there called a device called an Alive Core Global Cardia, where you can record up to a six-lead EKG. And it’s actually a little device. It just sits down next to your phone, and it communicates to your phone over Bluetooth.

Q: When it comes to heart health, what do we need to keep in mind?

A: Know what your baseline is. Know what’s consistent for you. Know what your typical numbers are. Know what your normals are and if something’s abnormal, particularly if you’re not feeling normal, that’s when you should see your doctor.

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