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Apple Heart Health Study shows that watch detects atrial fibrillation



With great power comes great responsibility.

It is a reef for Spiderman's mission, which applies to both Apple's entry into health care and to the Apple Watch 4, which informs about irregular heartbeats and the performance of the watch itself.

Irregular heartbeats are potentially dangerous since They can lead to strokes, blood clots or heart failure. To prove that this FDA-approved technology is worth the hype, Apple joined Stanford Medicine in a study of more than 400,000 people to identify irregular heart rhythms and potential atrial fibrillation (AFIB) using Apple Watch data. When irregular heart rhythms were detected, study participants received notification of their Apple Watch and iPhone, telemedicine consultation with a physician, and an electrocardiogram (ECG) for additional monitoring. The findings were reported today at the American College of Cardiology meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana.

How well did the clock work?

Considering that the test was supported by Apple, it is not surprising that the researchers found that the watch was able to effectively detect cardiac arrhythmias. This feature has been criticized by some physicians because false positive results could lead to paranoia and unnecessary time and expense in visiting the doctor.

Only 0.5% of the more than 400,000 participants received notification of an irregular heart rhythm, illustrating the ability of the feature to provide vital health information to a user without unnecessary burden on the physician's plan. Many participants sought medical treatment for their irregular rhythm notification and used the information to make more meaningful discussions with their physicians.

In an exclusive interview on the eve of the publication of the study, Dr. Ing. Sumbul Desai, Apple's Apple Apple's Apple President, said Apple has worked with the medical community during the conception and design of the product, especially to worry about how to ensure that medical resources are not made unnecessary by false results be used ̵

1; the big responsibility. "Before a notification is sent to a person, the feature must see five instances that look like Afib." Desai. "By gating within the algorithm, Apple has focused on specificity and avoiding unnecessary warnings."

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For over 400,000 participants, 0.5 percent received a notification." For people under the age of 40, only 0.16 percent, received a notification, "says Dr. Desai. "Among the over 65s, the number was more than three percent more common. This shows that doctors with Afib assume that they are more general with age. "

Dr. Desai adds that Apple has developed the Apple Watch 4 with the simple principle that heart rate monitoring and ECG function should be used in conjunction with your doctor for a deeper conversation. "It's not meant for diagnosis or official screening," she says. "It's meant to be an initial data point for the individual so he can take that information and have a more informed and thoughtful conversation with his doctor."

Yet, some cardiologists also ask how useful this information actually is. Christopher Kelly, MD cardiologist at Columbia University Medical Center and author of I Dying ?, points out that there is no clinical data from this study showing that early Afib diagnoses have an effect ,

"Just because you know an illness earlier does not prove that this is a good thing," Dr. Kelly. He explains that treatment for people who do not have stroke risk factors or symptoms of Afib such as shortness of breath is not always possible.

However, Dr. Kelly, this technology is a step in the right direction. These findings could lead to clinical trials in which physicians determine if early detection helps people who are at Afib risk. "Not only does a successful screening test detect earlier, but it recognizes it earlier, at a time when previous interventions improve outcomes," he says. "Over time, we'll find out how to best use this stuff."

Strong Implications beyond the Study

This study was about Afib, it was also about the convergence of digital technology and health.

"The Apple Watch is the most personal device ever," says Dr. Desai. "Being with you all the time is really a great opportunity, almost a responsibility, to focus on your health and live a healthier life. As a doctor and as a person, you always want to be active in your health and not react to your care. "

Dr. Desai emphasizes that cardiac study is only a first step. "With the watch, you have a platform that allows you to connect with a loved one, stay in touch with your family, and know how much you move. You may also be able to introduce features that will give you more meaningful information about your health. " Desai. "What's really important is when you introduce wellness – mindfulness, nutrition, exercise – and with these new personal health functions, you can do something really strong."

From a scientific point of view, the scope of the study. "Opens a whole new way to generate evidence," says Dr. Desai, an important step in digital technology. It is the largest heart study ever conducted. (For comparison, the Framingham Heart study, arguably the most famous heart study in history, initially had 5, 209 participants.) "It shows that Apple has the ability to conduct extensive virtual experiments." In the course of the study, Apple learned other facts about participants' health: 38 percent were overweight due to the body mass index, 21 percent had high blood pressure, 5 percent had diabetes, and 1 percent had a previous stroke. "The population in the study had a significant number of people with chronic illnesses, so we need to think about how we can help our clients become healthier," says Dr. Desai. "Obviously there is a chance that everyone will focus on health and become healthier."

Apple is already working on new research and is enrolling patients in a longer-term study with Johnson and Johnson to investigate whether a new cardiac infarction heart health program is being conducted. An app from Johnson & Johnson combined with Apple's irregular rhythm notification Watch and the ECG app can accelerate diagnosis and improve the health outcomes of 33 million people worldwide living with Afib.


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