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EKG through an Apple Watch?
It is important to detect an irregular heartbeat early on before serious illnesses eventually develop. A study has now shown that the so-called Apple Watch can reliably detect an irregular heartbeat, which often indicates a serious heart rhythm problem.
A research team at Stanford University School of Medicine found that the use of the Apple Watch could lead to improved detection of an irregular heartbeat. The results of the study were presented at this year's American College of Cardiology meeting in New Orleans.
Early detection of atrial fibrillation through a clock?
According to data from a large study funded by Apple Inc., the Apple Watch was able to detect irregular heartbeats, which required further investigation into possible problems with the heart rhythm. Hopefully, this technology can be used in the future for the early detection of atrial fibrillation, the most common form of an irregular heartbeat. People with atrial fibrillation have a stroke five times more likely than normal healthy people.
Study had over 400,000 participants
Over 400,000 users of Apple Watches took part in the current study. About 0.5 percent or about 2,000 subjects received notifications of an irregular pulse from these participants. A so-called EKG patch (electrocardiography) was sent to these people for later detection of episodes of atrial fibrillation. A third of the participants who used the watch and found an irregular pulse could detect atrial fibrillation using ECG technology. The results also showed that 57 percent of the participants who received a warning on their watch went to see a doctor afterwards.
The ECG function is not available in Germany
The information from the study can be combined with the evaluation of electrocardiography and ultimately used for clinical decisions, the authors explain. In the current study, the new Series 4 of the Apple Watch was not yet used because it was only available after the start of the study. This watch has the ability to take an electrocardiogram to detect heart problems and first required approval from the United States Food and Drug Administration. The availability of the new ECG function is controlled by Apple via the setting for the region, at least this is suspected. The ECG function of the watch is not available in Germany until further notice.
Use of portable technology has great potential
The study is an important first step in finding out how such technologies can be used in an evidence-based manner. However, the researchers involved in the study advise that the use of data from everyday devices in the treatment of patients should be done with caution. In general, this type of technology has great future potential. Atrial fibrillation is just the beginning, as this study opens the door for further studies on wearable technologies and their uses. The future will show how these devices can prevent diseases before they occur. "The performance and accuracy that we observed in this study provide important information to help us understand the potential impact of wearable technology on the healthcare system," said study author Professor Marco Perez of Stanford University in a press release. (as)