Massive Study Finds Apple Watch Can Detect Undiagnosed Heart Rhythm Problems

An anonymous reader quotes Engadget: Researchers from Stanford University’s School of Medicine presented results from a giant study sponsored by Apple Inc. that showed the Apple Watch can sometimes spot patients with undiagnosed heart-rhythm problems, without producing large numbers of false alarms. The Apple-sponsored trial enrolled 419,297 people and was one of the largest heart-screening studies ever.

The study, details of which are being presented today at the American College of Cardiology conference in New Orleans, used the watch’s sensors to detect possible atrial fibrillation… People who have atrial fibrillation are at risk of blood clots and strokes. In the U.S., it causes 750,000 hospitalizations a year and contributes to 130,000 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Because it doesn’t always produce outward symptoms, it can go undiagnosed. According to results presented Saturday, about 0.5 percent of patients in the study — or almost 2,100 people — received notices from their watch indicating that they might have a heart-rhythm problem. That relatively low number showed that the technology wasn’t inundating people with worrisome alerts.


People receiving a notification were asked to then wear an ECG (electrocardiography) patch, according to the Verge, adding that Stanford reports “84 percent of the time, participants who received irregular pulse notifications were found to be in atrial fibrillation at the time of the notification.”

The dean of Stanford’s medical school says the study “opens the door to further research into wearable technologies and how they might be used to prevent disease before it strikes.”