There’s a new wearable from Fitbit on the way, and it can detect when a heart goes into AFib. Will it work in Australia?
You’re probably used to seeing wearables track footsteps, count calories, and even monitor heart rate, but what about working out whether a heart is in good condition and hitting irregular rhythms, the sort of which could trigger atrial fibrillation.
Also known as “AFib”, it’s the sort of thing that can suggest something deeply negative is happening to a body. Atrial fibrillation can be connected to heart failure, blood clots, and even stroke, and is the sort of thing that can give doctors an idea of how to save a life, leading to a treatment that can maintain a heart so that it’s in the best condition possible.
It’s why it makes so much sense for AFib detection to be included in wearables, because if they can be used to track the overall health of someone, why not use it to work out serious conditions. Fitbit has long been suggesting its technology could be used for detecting sleep apnoea, a claim Withings has made similarly, however it’s not the only thing Fitbit has been working on.
In its most recent gadget, the Fitbit Sense supports an electrocardiogram, also known as an ECG. It’s the sort of technology that can monitor a heart beat, and is found in at least one other wearable, though is only enabled in some parts of the world.
For Fitbit, the ECG technology in its Sense smartwatch will work in the US, the UK, Hong Kong, and more than a handful of places in Europe, with clearance to run the ECG for AFib detection being given for both the US and EU by their respective regulators.
So what about Australia? Well, that’s not necessarily a go, at least not yet.
Much like how Apple can’t run the ECG from the Apple Watch Series 4 and higher including the previous Apple Watch Series 5 and the newly introduced Series 6 Apple Watch, Fitbit doesn’t yet have support to run the ECG locally, with the Therapeautic Goods Association (TGA) still not quite calling this one a go.
In fact, a representative for Fitbit in Australia had this to say about the ECG in Australia:
We are excited to bring this important technology to our users and we were committed to doing so only after thorough testing and development, and by working closely with regulators around the globe including Australia to bring this feature to market soon. We would keep you informed on the timelines.
To put it simply, there’s likely no timeline yet on Fitbit’s local ECG support because like Apple, there is no local nod from the TGA, at least not yet. When that happens, ECG support will likely be pretty instantaneous, but until that happens, an ECG is just a wearable feature Australians won’t be able to use.