Apple has, just this week, launched an Apple Heart Study with the release of the Heart Study app. Partnering with Stanford University, Apple hopes to be able to accurately identify arrhythmias with its heart rate tracking technology and notify users of possible atrial fibrillation, using just an Apple Watch and an iPhone.
Apple and most wearable technology companies use LED lights that flash hundreds of times per second and light-sensitive photodiodes that detect the amount of blood flowing through the wrist to determine the heart’s activity. This is the simpler method of measurement when compared to the gold-standard of heart health monitoring: electrocardiogram, commonly known as an ECG. However, the simplicity of the technology coupled with the ability to detect potentially fatal arrhythmias will be a significant step in the right direction for the overall health wearables market, should Apple prove successful.
To note, there are now products on the market that provide accurate, FDA approved atrial fibrillation detection and 1-lead ECG recording. But with the long list of things that Apple’s Watch is already capable of, this addition could very well see the giant changing the wearable industries game.
Although not yet available to us Apple Watch owners in Australia, users in America who are 22 years or older and own an Apple Watch series 1 or newer can download the app, which will periodically collect heart rate and rhythm samples throughout the day, depending on how active the user is. If an irregular heart rhythm is identified, participants will be alerted and will be offered a free phone or FaceTime consultation with a study doctor and also receive an ECG patch to wear for additional monitoring.
You can find out more about the study here.