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May 2, 2019,  by Allianz Partners Business Insights

Heart disease: A study shows how the Apple Watch can used in healthcare

A recent study led by a Californian medical school showed how the Apple Watch can be used to correctly identify an irregular heart rate. Just under 400,000 people took part in this experiment, which began in November 2018. 

Photo credits: Crew crew/Wikimedia Commons

On 16th March, the University of Stanford medical school, located in Palo Alto (California), confirmed that atrial fibrillation could be accurately recognised using an Apple Watch. This is the conclusion of a study led since November 2018 on 400,000 participants, reported Numerama

An algorithm that is 71% accurate

When it detects an irregular heartbeat, the Apple Watch sends an alert to the user via the Apple Heart Study application. “Only 0.5 percent of participants received irregular pulse notifications, an important finding given concerns about potential over-notification,” stated the University of Stanford in a press release. The people concerned were then referred to a telemedicine appointment, and asked to wear an ECG patch to record their heart rate for a week. 

In order to check its reliability, the data collected by the Apple Watches was compared with that collected by a traditional ECG. The algorithm was shown to be 71% accurate. The University of Stanford’s press release stated that more than a third (34%) of participants who received an irregular heartbeat notification were diagnosed with atrial fibrillation a week later.

The use of technology in healthcare

The Apple Watches used in the study were series 1, 2 or 3 coupled with an iPhone. The latest version, which was designed with healthcare in mind, was not used in the study. 

This study shows “the potential role that innovative digital technology can play in creating more predictive and preventive healthcare,” said the cardiovascular specialists. Apple already made an impact in this field in May 2018, when the life of a young woman with a chronic disease was saved thanks to her Apple Watch.

Allianz Partners

Cover photo credits: Apple Watch 

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