A large study sponsored by Apple has revealed that the Apple Watch can detect an irregular heartbeat. 400,000 Apple Watch users were invited to take part in the study. The results were presented in New Orleans at a meeting of the American College of Cardiology.
2,000 participants, or 0.5% of those wearing the smartwatch, received an irregular heartbeat notification. They sent a patch for their Apple Watch that included an electrocardiogram sensor (ECG) to help detect atrial fibrillation (AFib).
Apple introduced the ECG sensor in Apple Watch 4
AFib, which is an irregular heartbeat, can cause strokes, blood clots, heart failure and other serious problems. AFib contributes 130,000 deaths per year in the United States. The Apple Watch 4 series already includes an ECG monitor, but the study was completed before this new smartwatch variant was released.
57% of Apple Watch owners who participated in the study sought medical help when they received a warning about an irregular heartbeat. This number may surprise consumers, as it means that 43% of Apple Watch carriers ignored the warning. Dr. Mitesh Patel, an assistant professor of medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine, noted that while the wearable is able to detect the warning signs of heart disease, the device must be combined with something that will motivate users to act on these warnings.
When an Apple Watch holder receives an irregular heartbeat notification, the notification asks the participant to make an appointment with one of the doctors associated with the study. At that point, the ECG sensor was sent to those who received the notification and was used to record the rhythm of their heart for a week.
“Atrial fibrillation is only the beginning, as this study opens the door to further research on wearable technologies and how they could be used to prevent disease before it strikes.” – Lloyd Minor, dean, Stanford School of Medicine
Ikechukwu Onu is a writer, front-end dev, and digital junkie with a profound interest in all things tech. When not reviewing gadgets or apps, he enjoys contributing in groups and forums, tinkering with websites, and hanging out with friends.