An Apple Watch Strap is in Development That Could Detect Hyperkalemia

According to a story from engadget.com, the tech company AliveCor, known for its KardiaBand device for Apple Watch, is currently developing new capabilities for its innovative watch strap. Currently, the KardiaBand watch strap can monitor the rhythm of a wearer’s heartbeat and detect any abnormalities that could be connected to potential health problems. The KardiaBand is already considered and approved medical device by the FDA, but AliveCor is working on a new feature that will allow the device to detect unusually high potassium levels in the blood.

High blood potassium, known as hyperkalemia, is relatively rare, but can be a side effect of other medical problems. Hyperkalemia is often caused by kidney failure, rhabdomylosis, and hypoaldosteronism. There are also some medications that can cause potassium levels to rise, such as NSAIDs and spironolactone. Hyperkalemia often does not cause any symptoms unless the change is severe. Some symptoms include muscle pain, muscle weakness, and numbness. To learn more about hyperkalemia, click here.

The KardiaBand is well suited to detecting high potassium levels because hyperkalemia can cause heart palpitations and an abnormal heart rate, which can lead to cardiac arrest and death. Data collected with the Mayo Clinic proved that AliveCor’s technology is able to detect high potassium levels. Using EKG readings, the neural network was capable of detecting hyperkalemia in 85 percent of cases and it could also identify readouts that were not hyperkalmic with 72 percent accuracy.

A smaller scale test using ten patients also tested the EKG device for a total of fifty hours. From this data, the network was able to identify hyperkalemia with 94 percent accuracy and non-hyperkalemic data in 74 percent of cases. This data is preliminary, and AliveCor is still in the process of improving the neural network in order to obtain more accurate readings. The FDA has yet to give approval for the new KardiaBand capability, although the company will seek FDA approval in the future once the technology has been perfected. Although it may seem like a trivial function for the watch band to have, hyperkalemia is a serious medical concern that could be indicative of more severe medical problems.

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