Apple Heart Study App Explores Technology-Health Connection

Apple Heart Study App Explores Technology-Health Connection

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The Apple Heart Study app is an innovative research study that uses data from Apple Watch to identify irregular heart rhythms, including those from potentially serious heart conditions such as atrial fibrillation (AFib). It's still pushing the envelope in terms of what the Apple Watch can be used for and detection of atrial fibrillation seems to be one of the fields the Watch can really help.

Apple is careful not to make that direct claim.

Apple wants to help catch AFib for its Watch users before it's too late. Second, it could also encourage patients to be more adherent to their therapy as they can see the outcome or need for treatment.

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

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To track your heart, the Apple Watch's sensor uses flashing LED lights and light-sensitive photodiodes to detect the amount of blood pumping through your wrist. The condition kills around 130,000 people per year, according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to a landing page updated by Stanford Medicine, the study is open to US residents 22 years or older that have not been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation and own at least an iPhone 5S and a Series 1 Apple Watch. Should that occur, you'll be offered a free consultation with a study doctor, and possibly an electrocardiogram (ECG) patch for additional monitoring. If it notices something amiss, it will notify that person on the Watch and iPhone. The technology can also monitor the pattern of the heartbeat.

Apple Chief Operations Officer Jeff Williams announced the study, which is being conducted in collaboration with Stanford University and with assistance from American Well, at Apple's iOS 8 launch event in September. The app uses this technology combined with software algorithms to identify an irregular heart rhythm. The company hopes to address this problem through the Apple Health Study app, which can alert users if it spots signs of AFib in their heart data and also share that information with medical researchers working to better understand AFib. The company declined to say whether it would take on further research in the future. The study will last 15 months and users can enroll by downloading an app.

ResearchKit has enabled 12 research study apps, including a Concussion Tracking app from NYU Langone, a mole-mapping app that detects melanoma from Oregon Health and Science University, and an app promoting sleep health from the University of California San Diego, all of which are free on the app store.