Can smartwatch technology identify arrhythmias in children with adult algorithms?


Scott Ceresnak, MD, explains smartwatch technology could be a great tool in detecting arrhythmias in children, however, given that algorithms in the technology were designed for adults, caution must be used as well.

According to a retrospective study published in Communication Medicine, smartwatch technology, specifically Apple Watch, can record arrhythmia events in children, including events that are not generally identified using ambulatory monitors.

However, caution should be exercised in using this technology, as algorithms in the wearable tech were designed for adults.

The study, "Utility of smart watches for identifying arrhythmias in children," featured analysis of patients 18 years or younger that demonstrated signs of arrhythmia documented by an Apple Watch.

Scott Ceresnak, MD, director, of the Pediatric Electrophysiology Program, Stanford Medicine Children’s Health, Palo Alto, California, and colleagues identified 145 electronic-medical-record identifications of "Apple Watch" and found that arrhythmias were confirmed in 41 patients.

Click here for a further breakdown of this study and its data.

"You can actually use these watches to [pick up arrhythmias in adults], and our paper showed that you can pick them up in children as well," Ceresnak told Contemporary Pediatrics.

"I think you have to be a little careful though, in the sense that all the algorithms, again, are developed with adults in mind... You have to be careful saying, [for example], 'Is my watch telling me I'm atrial fibrillation,' when it's really not," added Ceresnak.

"I think we have the right balance between using their watch appropriately, especially in patients who have symptoms, or even in patients who don't have symptoms and have a degree of suspicion that the watch may be right... But we also have to have a bit of caution to over-interpret that data too."

Click here for more expert interviews from Contemporary Pediatrics.


Zahedivash, A., Chubb, H., Giacone, H. et al. Utility of smart watches for identifying arrhythmias in children. Commun Med 3, 167 (2023).

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