An arm donning an Apple Watch and the AliveCor KardiaBand

Heart-monitoring technology company AliveCor announced in a press release today that its Apple Watch accessory — called the KardiaBand — has officially been cleared as a medical device by the FDA, making it the first Apple Watch accessory to be FDA-approved. The band replaces the user's normal Apple Watch band, and uses sensors in tandem with AliveCor's Kardia app to monitor their heart rate and do EKGs on the fly. A mobile accessory that correctly monitors abnormal heart rhythms is a big deal, whether you have a preexisting heart condition or not — Atrial Fibrillation (AFib), the most common heart arrythmia, is a leading cause of stroke, and you may not even know you're experiencing it.

Dr. Ronald P. Karlsberg, board-certified cardiologist and clinical professor of Medicine at Cedars Senai Heart Institute and UCLA's School of Medicine, stressed the importance of technology like the KardiaBand in a statement:

This is a paradigm shift for cardiac care as well as an important advance in healthcare. Today, EKGs are available only in offices and hospitals, using complex equipment, and usually only after a life threatening event, for example a stroke. With an EKG device on the wrist, AFib can be detected wherever the patient is, 24 hours a day. In randomized research trials, KardiaMobile, the first AliveCor EKG device, proved to be superior to routine care provided by physicians. Today, KardiaBand is a giant leap in personalized health care.

An Apple Watch attached to a the black KardiaBand

The band itself is very nondescript, and is made of black thermoplastic polyurethane with a stainless steel sensor module that rests just beneath the Apple Watch device. To take an EKG, all you have to do is sit down comfortably, relax, and press your thumb to the sensor for 30 seconds. The results are displayed on the face of the watch within the Kardia app.

In addition to the band, AliveCor also introduced SmartRhythm, a new feature within the Kardia app that uses artificial intelligence and Apple Watch's heart rate and activity sensors to continuously evaluate your heart rate. When it detects that heart rate and activity aren't matching up — i.e., you're sedentary but your heart rate is going crazy — it notifies you to capture an EKG with your KardiaBand ASAP to make sure nothing fishy is going on.

If you'd like to get a KardiaBand to keep an eye on your heart's rate and rhythm, you can grab one for $199 from the AliveCore website. Sure, it's a little pricey, but it's $300 less than that Hermès band you've been thirsting after, and it may save your life.

See at AliveCor

Thoughts?

What do you think of AliveCor's KardiaBand? Do you feel it would be beneficial to you? Share with us in the comments.