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Why some doctors are recommending Apple Watches to manage health conditions

Apple Watch recommendations from doctors
Some doctors recommending Apple Watches to manage health conditions 03:03

Apple watches and other wearable devices may be more useful to your long term health goals than you think.

Some doctors are recommending them as a medical tool to help diagnose and manage certain conditions, including heart disease monitoring and post-surgery recovery. 

"There are a lot of health benefits" in using these devices, said Dr. Rod Passman, cardiologist and professor of medicine at Northwestern Medicine.

"It empowers patients to get involved in their health care. It allows them to understand lifestyle choices may impact their health. And from my perspective, it allows me to monitor my patients long term, remotely, no matter where they are in the world, to understand what's going on with their heart rhythm, simply by doing an EKG from the watch itself," Passman told CBS News. "So I think this is a very powerful tool, and many of us are using it, not only to diagnose disease, but perhaps even manage diseases like abnormal rhythm."

Passman said a diagnosis isn't made "purely because your watch says something's wrong," but it can be a helpful tool in assisting the process. 

"We always want to get medical grade confirmation before we embark on any treatment. However, we understand that this is a pretty accurate tool for detecting abnormal rhythms, and certainly the EKG that's done, when it's interpreted by a skilled physician can be incredibly powerful," he said. 

Passman is leading a study funded by the National Institute of Health that aims to understand whether people with abnormal rhythms of the heart can use these devices to personalize care.

"Instead of taking your blood thinner, for example, 12 months out of the year, perhaps the watch can help guide when you need to take the blood thinner so that you can receive the benefits of a medication while minimizing the risks," he said. 

Passman said Apple watches aren't the only brand to have comparable benefits, mentioning devices from Samsung, Fitbit and Kardia, for example, have their uses.

"I really encourage my patients to get a device that's compatible with the phone that they have compatible with their cost limitations," he said. "The options are only going to expand to more devices, more rings, more wearables, and perhaps more compatible with other platforms as well."

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