A couple of studies have shown it’s possible to use AliveCor’s EKG-monitoring band for the Apple Watch to detect high potassium levels and atrial fibrillation symptoms, MacRumors reports. It’s not surprising that a Cleveland Clinic study found that the FDA-approved band can differentiate between atrial fibrillation and a normal heart rhythm since that’s a part of what it was designed to do, but the Mayo Clinic found that with a little help from AI the band could also alert users to dangerous potassium levels in their blood.
Currently the only way to diagnose high potassium levels is a blood test, meaning that the condition (and accompanying causes) often do undetected.
The Mayo Clinic found that using more than two million EKGs paired with four million serum potassium values allowed the band to use its own EKG readings to diagnose high potassium levels with a “sensitivity range between 91 and 94 percent.” High potassium is a sign of several serious health conditions, such as congestive heart failure, chronic kidney disease, and diabetes, and being able to monitor for it constantly without frequent blood tests can help diagnose problems earlier. Vic Gundotra, AliveCor CEO, said making the algorithm used in the Mayo Clinic trial commercially available will put us “on the path to change the way hyperkalemia can be detected,” but the company’s monitoring isn’t cheap, with the KardiaBand priced at $199 and the required monitoring servce coming in at $99 a year.