Daily Management Review

Large U.S. Study Finds Detection Of Irregular Heart Beat By Apple Watch


The results of a large study that was funded by Apple Inc. has brought out that the Apple Watch has the capacity to detect irregular heart pulse rates among users which is a clear signal for the users that there is something amiss in the users’ health which calls for further examination for a possible serious heart rhythm issue. According to the iPhone maker, this shows the potential future role of the wearable consumer devices in healthcare.
Researchers see potential in the technology is assisting early detection of atrial fibrillation which is the most common type of irregular heart beat. According to researchers, those people who have untreated AF are five times more vulnerable for suffering a stroke.
The results of the study were presented at the American College of Cardiology meeting in New Orleans and it involved the largest AF screening and detection study which included more than 400,000 users of Apple Watch invited to take part in the study.
The report found that notifications of an irregular pulse were received by 0.5 percent, or about 2,000 subjects of the 400,000 respondents. Those people who were identified were also given an ECG (electrocardiography) patch to be worn during subsequent detection of atrial fibrillation episodes.
Researchers said that the use of the ECG technology made possible to ascertain that atrial fibrillation was present in about one third of the participants who were found to have an irregular pulse by the Apple watch.
Data also showed that about 84 per cent of the irregular pulse notifications were later confirmed to have been AF episodes.
“The physician can use the information from the study, combine it with their assessment ... and then guide clinical decisions around what to do with an alert,” said Dr. Marco Perez, one of the study’s lead investigators from Stanford School of Medicine.
Researcher also said that medical attention was later sought by 57 per cent of the participants who got an alert on their watch.
The aim of Apple to venture into the health care segment would be boosted by the outcome of the study. The study did not make use of the new Series 4 Watch because that was made available to people only after the beginning of the study. According to Apple, the Series 4 Watch has been infused with the capacity to take an electrocardiogram so that it could detect the heart problems of the users and has also obtained the necessary clearance for the same from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The results of the study were termed to be important because the use of such wearable technology would only increase in the future, said Dr. Deepak Bhatt, a cardiologist from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston who was not attached to the study.
“The study is an important first step in figuring out how can we use these technologies in a way that’s evidence based,” he said.
However the researchers also issued a caution for doctors in making use of information and data from consumer devices while treating patients. But they also recognize the potential for the future for this technology.
“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,” said Lloyd Minor, dean of Stanford School of Medicine.