Published: Fri, December 01, 2017
Tech | By Dwayne Harmon

Apple Heart Study App Explores Technology-Health Connection

Apple Heart Study App Explores Technology-Health Connection

Apple Inc. joined the healthcare industry today with the launch the new Apple Health Study app for the Apple Watch, which gathers heart rate data for a medical study conducted by Stanford University. However, many people don't have any symptoms warning them that they're experiencing AFib, which means that heart conditions are going undiagnosed. The condition kills about 130,000 people per year, according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The way Apple explains it, a sensor inside the watch uses green LED lights flashing hundreds of times per second and light-sensitive photodiodes to detect the amount of blood flowing through the wrist. Working alongside the medical community, not only can we inform people of certain health conditions, we also hope to advance discoveries in heart science.

A participant in the study merely has to download the app and wear the watch. Now, the watch can do this on its own.

So far, the Cardiogram's study results seem promising.

The heart rate sensor in the Apple Watch is created to catch problems like irregular heartbeats which don't always cause symptoms.

Apple Heart Study App Explores Technology-Health Connection
Apple Heart Study App Explores Technology-Health Connection

Later, the same eHealth study concluded the Watch could also detect sleep apnea and hypertension with similar accuracy using its built-in sensor. "We look forward to continuing to apply deep machine learning techniques to uncover hidden physiological signals in ECGs to improve heart and overall human health". Apple and Stanford are partnering with Boston firm American Well to provide those consults.

Currently, the only real way to diagnose AFib is through an ECG reading, which is usually done through equipment with a built-in ECG reader at a hospital or clinic.

"No one has gotten FDA clearance outside of us for any ECG-related product", he said.

As with the Apple Heart Study, AliveCor's rollout is targeted at detecting AFib early, before it progresses to a serious health issue. More advanced software to take your pulse were a major addition to Apple's latest Watch software upgrade, and users can already get alerts when you appear to have an elevated heart rate but aren't active. As part of the study, those participating in the study - that is, anyone who installs the app and is aged 22 years and over - who have an irregular heart rhythm will receive a notification on their watch and their iPhone, and will be invited to attend a free medical consultation and fitted with an electrogram (ECG) patch for continued monitoring.

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