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J&J, Apple combine technologies to study early detection of irregular heartbeat

Johnson & Johnson is collaborating with Apple Inc. on a research study to determine if their technologies can be used together for earlier diagnosis of abnormal heart rhythm.

The companies are combining an application developed by J&J unit Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. with Apple Watch's irregular rhythm notifications and electrocardiography application for the research program.

The study, set to begin later this year, will evaluate the impact of the Apple Watch in detecting atrial fibrillation at an early stage. Atrial fibrillation starts as brief periods of abnormal heartbeat and increases in duration over time, leading to stroke and other complications.

The U.S.-only research study will enroll individuals 65 years or older and will measure the improvement in outcomes from early detection of disease. The study will also evaluate drug compliance in subjects using J&J's application.

J&J said in a Jan. 17 press release that 20% of stroke patients were not aware of their atrial fibrillation condition, which causes 130,000 deaths and 750,000 hospitalizations in the U.S. every year.