Your Apple Watch could soon help your cardiologist in discovering heart conditions

Your Apple Watch could soon help your cardiologist in discovering heart conditions
Your smartwatch may become your second cardiologist in the near future. After a series of studies, scientists from the University of California, San Francisco, have found out that your Apple Watch, combined with an app from Cardiogram Inc., could detect if you had a heart condition, but that's only accurately done while you're resting, preferably on your back.

The study utilized the step counter and heart-rate sensor of the Apple Watch to monitor data about a heart condition called atrial fibrillation. It's a type of irregular heartbeat, which can lead up to blood clots and strokes.

The data gathered from 6,680 Apple Watch owners, including 50 people suffering from atrial fibrillation, was accessed via an app from Cardiogram Inc. – the company that has also funded the research. The information was then further analyzed by a machine-learning (automatically-improving machine) network, which resulted in some interesting conclusions.

Firstly, the Apple Watch "diagnosed" atrial fibrillation with 97% accuracy when compared to the well-known cardiograms, if the patient was resting and not performing any physical activities. In case the person was moving or just performing regular, day-to-day tasks, the detection rate fell down to 72%. The severe difference was caused by the increased heart-rate people have while being physically active, which also lead the Apple Watch to perform less heart-rate tracking throughout the day.

Atrial fibrillation affects over 2,700,000 Americans and a total of 34,000,000 people worldwide. Some people might be unaware they've got atrial fibrillation, as the symptoms, including chest pain, irregular heartbeat, fatigue while exercising, and shortness of breath could be unrecognized by the patient. That's very bad, as if left untreated, atrial fibrillation could lead to severe complications.

The study is part of the eHealth Heart project. It started back in 2013 and aims to prevent heart diseases by utilizing the power of mobile technologies we have at our disposal. So far the project has over 160,000 participants but aims to hit the million mark by the end of the year.

Unfortunately, users may not use the Cardiogram Inc. app to check if they have heart disease yet, but the company hopes to roll out the features needed soon.


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