Published: Fri, December 01, 2017
Science | By Cecil Little

Could Your Apple Watch Save Your Life?

Could Your Apple Watch Save Your Life?

Apple says that some 130,000 people die in the USA every year because of AFib, and the condition is responsible for some 750,000 hospitalizations annually.
So how will the Apple Watch identify your irregular heartbeat? And the benefits of joining the study may offer you some incredibly valuable insight into your heart health.

Apple Heart STudy launches to identify irregular heart rhythms.

The sensor in the Apple Watch uses LED lights to measure heart rate.

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"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 the Stanford University School of Medicine, said in a press release. While others have used Apple's software and devices in medical studies, this is the first time the Cupertino company has actually sponsored one itself. 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.

The ' Apple Heart Study' app is now available on the Apple Store for people to download and participate in (if they meet the inclusion criteria and agree to be a trial subject). You must be 22 years or older and have an Apple Watch. It's a medical condition that can go undetected for years and happens to be the leading cause of stroke.

If the app detects an irregular heart rhythm, the user receives an alert on their iPhone and Apple Watch, a free consultation with a study doctor, and an electrocardiogram patch for further monitoring.

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That same ongoing study has also concluded the same results may be available to any wearable heart rate sensor, including those found within Garmin, Fitbit or Android Wear as they all have similar components. The technology can also monitor the pattern of the heartbeat. If an irregular heart rhythm is observed, the app will notify you. However, the study focused exclusively on results from the Apple Watch. Since the launch of Apple's open-source ResearchKit in 2015, universities have been able to use the iPhone and Apple Watch in their medical research. Then, they often must visit them in person to collect data. That includes all models except the original Apple Watch.

He also noted that the Apple Watch has successfully identified arrhythmia in previous third-party studies. In September Williams said that Apple worked closely with the FDA in developing the study.

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