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The Apple Watch Aims to Help Detect Atrial Fibrillation

01 December 2017, 06:41 | Hattie Nash

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"Every week we receive incredible customer letters about how Apple Watch has affected their lives, including learning that they have AFib", noted Apple COO Jeff Williams, in a press release. And the benefits of joining the study may offer you some incredibly valuable insight into your heart health. But the launch of Apple's Heart Rate Study app happens to coincide with news about the first US Food and Drug Administration-cleared EKG reader for Apple Watch.

"Through the Apple Heart Study, Stanford Medicine faculty will explore how technology like Apple Watch's heart rate sensor can help usher in a new era of proactive health care central to our Precision Health approach", Lloyd Minor, Dean of Stanford University School of Medicine, said in a statement.

Explained:What is atrial fibrillation anyway? 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. In the past year, Stanford has funded a number of studies on digital health, and the use of the Apple Watch in multiple areas of medicine.

Healthcare has been looking to mHealth and digital health devices - particularly wearables - for many years in an effort to detect AFib conditions earlier, a hard process given the lack of noticeable symptoms.

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The Heart Study app, first announced in September during the iPhone X launch, is available for US adults over the age of 22 and on all three series of Apple Watch.

With news coming that some insurance companies are giving Apple watches to their members to help improve wellness, this may be another avenue to encourage health insurers or other agencies to recommend the Apple Watch in an increasingly competitive wearable market.

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

Study researchers will also then send an electrocardiogram patch to participants experiencing irregular heartbeats, for a further reading. If an irregular heart rhythm is observed, the app will notify you. After you download the app, you'll be asked to give your consent for participation. 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. The company hopes to see enrollment on par with previous ResearchKit studies, which had upwards of 15 to 20,000 enrollees in the first week. That includes all models except the original Apple Watch. In September Williams said that Apple worked closely with the FDA in developing the study.

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