Apple Heart Study launches as FDA clears first Apple Watch EKG reader

Gwen Vasquez
December 1, 2017

AFib is now the leading cause of strokes; it leads to 130,000 deaths and 750,000 hospitalizations every year just in the US. And the benefits of joining the study may offer you some incredibly valuable insight into your heart health.

Today, Apple launched the Apple Heart Study app.

The study was first announced in Apple's September event, where the company said it believed the Apple Watch heart rate sensor was good enough to accurately detect AFib, which is a common cause of strokes and heart failure and responsible for around 130,000 deaths in the U.S. alone each year.

To calculate heart rate and rhythm, Apple Watch's sensor uses green LED lights flashing hundreds of times per second and light-sensitive photodiodes to detect the amount of blood flowing through the wrist. It's still pushing the envelope in terms of what the Apple Watch can be used for and detection of atrial fibrillation seems to be one of the fields the Watch can really help. Some people don't have any symptoms and don't even realize they have it until it's discovered during a physical exam, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Those ages 22 and over and who might have an irregular heart beat can participate in the new Apple heart health study by installing the app on any iOS device. Over the past year and a half, Cardiogram has been using its own algorithm and the Watch's sensor in a study involving heart health with the University of California San Francisco.

Apple Heart Study launches as FDA clears first Apple Watch EKG reader

The Apple Watch is becoming a popular mHealth wearable for people with cardiac conditions.

Apple Chief Operations Officer Jeff Williams announced the study, which is being conducted in collaboration with Stanford University and with assistance from American Well, at Apple's iOS 8 launch event in September. The technology can also monitor the pattern of the heartbeat.

Doctors and medical researchers around the world have been using iPhone and Apple Watch to study various aspects of health. The study will last 15 months and users can enroll by downloading an app. If an irregular heart rhythm is observed, the app will notify you. Lastly, it could be an interesting talking point for pharmacists that are conducting MTM services as this could be a tool to collect data from. Now go to the Identify your Apple Watch web page and match your model number to the list. The SEARCH-AF study. Thromb Haemost.

The Apple Watch is key element in Stanford's mHealth research. But Apple researchers said they believe the Watch will provide a representative sample of the population for their study.

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