Study: Apple Watch is 97% accurate when detecting one of the common causes of heart failure
With its huge share of the global smartwatch market, the Apple Watch is undoubtedly the most popular wearable device of this type. And there is a good reason for that – it is a good-looking watch and a convenient fitness tracker with many capabilities. But as it turns out, the Apple Watch can also be a very useful tool that doctors could use for early diagnosis of a common, but dangerous heart rhythm anomaly called atrial fibrillation (AF).
According to a recent study conducted through heartbeat measurement app Cardiogram in cooperation with the University of California, San Francisco, the Apple Watch is highly accurate in detecting atrial fibrillation. The goal of the study, started in 2016, was to find out how well the Apple Watch and the Cardiogram app could detect this common cause of heart failures. The researchers developed a custom AI algorithm for the the Cardiogram app to train a deep neural network, so that it can reliably identify abnormal heart rhythms. They used heart rate data gathered with Apple Watch devices from 6,158 participants in the study.
As a result, the AI-enabled software and the Apple Watch were 97% accurate in detecting AF anomalies. According to the study authors, the result is important because atrial fibrillation causes a quarter of all strokes, but about two-thirds of those types of heart failures are preventable with relatively inexpensive drugs. The study also proves that consumer-grade wearables can be used to detect disease, the researchers point out. And they think it is just the beginning – in the future, wearable devices like the Apple Watch and apps like Cardiogram could be used not just to detect, but to also treat diseases.