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Apple Watch detects irregular heartbeat, study shows

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Apple Watch Series 3. Study participants used the Series 1, 2 or 3, while the Series 4 won U.S. Food and Drug Administration backing in September 2018.
Source: Apple

Apple Inc.'s wearable technology can safely detect heart rate irregularities that could eventually lead to strokes, results from a study funded by the company showed.

Preliminary findings from the Apple Heart Study — conducted by researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine and including more than 400,000 participants — showed that the Apple Watch can identify irregular heartbeat that subsequent tests confirmed to be atrial fibrillation, the most common type of heart rhythm condition.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, atrial fibrillation affects an estimated 2.7 million to 6.1 million Americans, with these figures expected to increase as the U.S. population ages. Atrial fibrillation leads to more than 750,000 hospitalizations and about 130,000 deaths annually. The condition is often left undetected as many people do not experience symptoms.

Key findings from the study showed that about 0.5% of study participants received a notification on their Apple Watch and iPhone that they had irregular heartbeat, about 84% of whom were found to be in atrial fibrillation at the time of the notification. About 57% of those who got a notification sought medical attention.

"The study's findings have the potential to help patients and clinicians understand how devices like the Apple Watch can play a role in detecting conditions such as atrial fibrillation," said Mintu Turakhia, a principal investigator in the study and an associate professor of cardiovascular medicine at Stanford.

The findings were presented at the American College of Cardiology's 68th Annual Scientific Session and Expo.