A large new Apple watch study of over 400,000 persons who are using the watch which has sensors which can do an EKG has shown success in identifying irregular heartbeats and atrial fibrillation. While the watch sometimes produces “false positives” that identify heart activity that is not irregular, most of the cases have helped people to follow up and get checked by a doctor. 34% of the people who were identified by the watch as having irregular heart activity had atrial fibrillation when tested. Medical personnel say that percentage is good, given that a-fib is not a continuous heart activity but something that comes and goes over a period of time.
A media report noted the following:
“The study reportedly enrolled 419,297 people who had one of the earlier watches and an iPhone. Most were young people, but nearly 25,000 were aged 65 or older—the age group at the highest risk of the condition. The watches monitored for irregular heart rhythms and, if one was detected, notified the users and prompted them to set up a telemedicine consultation with a doctor involved with the study. The notified users were then able to get a separate ECG patch, which they were asked to use for a week to record their hearts’ electrical rhythms for comparison with watch data.”
Apple and other companies are seeking to develop wearable products that can get personal health information which can promote more patient engagement and empowerment. Apple has a health app on its IPHONE that allows patients to monitor exercise and other personal health data during the day.