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Apple Watch can safely detect irregular heartbeat

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Apple Watch can detect and notify users when they experience irregular heart rhythms, finds a study demonstrating the ability of wearable technology to detect atrial fibrillation. In 2017, Apple had partnered with researchers from the Stanford University and launched an app called “Apple Heart Study” to determine whether a mobile app that uses data from a heart rate pulse sensor on the Apple Watch can identify atrial fibrillation.

Atrial fibrillation, a deadly and often undiagnosed condition, can lead to strokes. The condition often remains hidden because many people do not experience symptoms. The findings showed only 0.5 per cent participants received irregular pulse notifications, an important finding given the concerns about potential over-notification.

Eighty-four per cent of the time participants who received irregular pulse notifications were found to be in atrial fibrillation at the time of the notification and 34 per cent who followed up by using an ECG patch over a week later were found to have atrial fibrillation.

“The results of the Apple Heart Study highlight the role that innovative digital technology can play in creating more predictive and preventive health care,” said Lloyd Minor of the Stanford School of Medicine.

“Atrial fibrillation is just the beginning, as this study opens the door to further research into wearable technologies and how they might be used to prevent disease before it strikes — a key goal of precision health,” Minor said.

Comparisons between irregular pulse-detection on Apple Watch and simultaneous electrocardiography patch recordings showed the pulse detection algorithm has 71 per cent positive predictive value.

“The performance and accuracy we observed in this study provides important information as we seek to understand the potential impact of wearable technology on the health system,” noted Marco Perez, Associate Professor of cardiovascular medicine at Stanford.

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