Study: Apple Watch Shows Promise in Detecting AFib

New Milford Hospital
Heart Beat

Summary:

  • Study findings presented at the American College of Cardiology (ACC) Annual Meeting showed that Apple Watch was able to accurately detect atrial fibrillation (AFib), or an irregular heart rhythm, 84 percent of the time.
  • Dr. Ira Galin, a cardiologist at Danbury Hospital and Norwalk Hospital, attended the Apple Watch session at the ACC annual meeting. He said although we have a long way to go in terms of reliability and accuracy, the Apple Heart Study shows that wearable devices could have a promising future in the detection and diagnosis of cardiovascular disease.

DANBURY, Connecticut, June 13, 2019 At this year’s American College of Cardiology (ACC) annual meeting, researchers from Stanford University presented study findings showing that the Apple Watch was able to detect atrial fibrillation (AFib) in people who received an alert of an irregular heartbeat. These findings highlight how wearable devices can potentially be used to detect health conditions before people experience life-threatening symptoms.

What is AFib?

AFib is a type of irregular heart rhythm. Damage to the heart from other health conditions such as coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, heart attack, and sleep apnea are common causes of AFib.

Many people may not experience AFib symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they include heart palpitations, shortness of breath, and fatigue.

If left undiagnosed and untreated, AFib can cause problems with blood flow that increase the risk of life-threatening conditions such as stroke and heart failure. For example, people with untreated AFib may have a five times higher risk for stroke than people without AFib.

About the Apple Watch Study

More than 400,000 people participated in the Apple Heart Study over about eight months. They were required to wear the Apple Watch and download the Heart Study iPhone application (app). Only 0.52 percent of all participants received irregular pulse watch notifications. Notification rates were most common in participants over age 65. Participants who received irregular pulse watch notifications had a virtual consultation with a study physician, and then wore an electrocardiogram (ECG) patch to confirm the diagnosis. Eighty-four percent of the time, participants who received irregular pulse watch notifications were found to be in AFib at the time of the notification.

A Promising Future for Wearable Devices

Ira Galin, MD, a cardiologist at Danbury Hospital and Norwalk Hospital attended the Apple Watch session at the ACC annual meeting. 

Ira Galin, M.D.
Dr. Ira Galin, cardiologist at Danbury Hospital and Norwalk Hospital   

“Although these features are not intended to be a substitute for medical diagnosis or monitoring, they may be able to provide patients with important clues about their health that prompt a visit to the doctor,” said Dr. Galin.

Wearable devices may also provide useful information that can guide physicians in their diagnostic and treatment decisions. For example, at Danbury Hospital, Dr. Galin is using an advanced, FDA-approved implantable device called the CardioMEMS Heart Failure Monitoring System. CardioMEMS can predict worsening heart failure through daily remote monitoring and prompt treatment changes that improve quality of life, control symptoms, and reduce hospital readmissions for heart failure patients.

“We have a long way to go in terms of reliability and accuracy. But the Apple Watch study shows that wearable devices could have a promising future in the detection and diagnosis of cardiovascular disease,” said Dr. Galin.

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About WCHN Heart & Vascular Care

WCHN Heart & Vascular Care services include prevention, screening, diagnosis, and treatment of all heart and vascular diseases using today’s most advanced technology and procedures. Visit wchn.org/heartcare to learn more about the cutting-edge cardiovascular care available at the Praxair Regional Heart and Vascular Center at Danbury Hospital and New Milford Hospital, and the Phyllis and David Komansky Cardiac and Vascular Center at Norwalk Hospital.

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