Technology

Apple Watch Detects Heart Rhythm Conditions Problems

Apple Watch Detects Heart Rhythm Conditions Problems

Apple watch detects heart rhythm conditions problems Many of us use fitness trackers as motivational tools to keep us moving, and to monitor our progress over time. But what if that sensor-packed Apple Watch or Fitbit on your wrist could actually help diagnose a potentially fatal heart condition? It’s possible, according to app developer Cardiogram. To determine if the Apple Watch’s sensors can differentiate between a normal heart rhythm and atrial fibrillation (AF). Apparently, it can; the study identified AF with 97 percent accuracy.

Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco worked with the app Cardiogram on the Health eHeart study, gathering cardiovascular data from 6,158 people who used Apple Watches. They tested whether the watches were able to detect the difference between normal heart rhythm and atrial fibrillation (AF). The watches were able to detect AF with 97-percent accuracy.

AF can be hard to detect, as symptoms can be as subtle as fatigue or sweating. According to the American Heart Association, 2.7 million people in the US alone suffer from AF. The condition doubles the risk of heart-related deaths, and quintuples the risk of stroke. One treatment is taking medication which will reduce the likelihood of stroke during the irregular heart rhythm, so it’s important for sufferers to know when it’s happening.

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Cardiogram tested the deep neural network it had built against 51 in-hospital cardioversions (a procedure that restores the heart’s normal rhythm) and says it achieved a 97 percent accuracy in the neural network’s ability to find irregular heart activity.

So far this is just a study built on a preliminary algorithm but it holds promise in trying to identify and prevent stroke in the future. Atrial fibrillation, the most common abnormal heart rhythm, causes 1 in 4 strokes. Ballinger says two-thirds of those types of strokes are preventable with relatively inexpensive drugs.

And more people, including older populations most prone to stroke risk, are starting to use wearable technology such as Fitbit or the Apple Watch, which can double as heart monitors. Including algorithms trained to identify heart problems could help save lives in some of these more at-risk populations.

The Heath eHeart team welcomes anyone over the age of 18 to participate in further data-gathering. If you want to contribute to the study, check out the sign-up page.

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