What it means for the advancement of smartwatches
Probably the most well-known wearable smart technology is the smartwatch. Since the advent of smartwatches, the focus has shifted to biometrics in healthcare applications. Plus, they have become an important monitoring tool, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. So, what is the Apple Heart Study?
Smartwatches have significantly improved in terms of usability, resulting in increased market growth.
There have certainly been many studies examining the growth of the smartwatch market. As well as the adoption patterns of smartwatches in healthcare applications and the product strategies of leading manufacturers such as Apple, Samsung, and Google.
Both Apple and Stanford Medicine are globally known players in their fields. As such, Apple and Stanford worked together in 2019 to make participating in medical research easier for customers. They recognized that additional data could lead to life-saving breakthroughs. As a result, irregular heart rhythms can now be caught early. This means you can prevent more serious health issues.
The Apple Heart and Stanford Medicine Study
The Apple Heart Study is the largest digital study to date, with over 400k participants in only eight months.
Wearables such as the Apple Watch could help doctors and patients diagnose atrial fibrillation, a severe and often undetected medical condition. A cardiovascular medicine associate professor, Mintu Turakhia, made the observation. In addition to laying the foundation for future research into the application of new wearable technologies in clinical practice, these substantial findings exemplify the unique potential of large-scale app-based studies.
The study’s senior authors are Urakhia and Manisha Desai, Ph.D., medicine and biomedical data science professors, respectively. Marco Perez, MD, an associate professor of cardiovascular medicine, is taking the lead in this study. Dr. Kenneth Mahaffey is the study’s chair, a cardiovascular medicine professor.
Researchers from Apple, Inc. began a study in November 2017 to test if the Apple Watch could detect atrial fibrillation by analyzing data from the Watch’s heart-rate pulse sensor. Atrioventricular block, which affects up to 6mn Americans, is one of the most common arrhythmias.
During the trial, only 0.52 percent of patients received a notification that their pulses were abnormal. Displacing worries about over-notifying healthy people. An electrocardiography (ECG) patch continuously monitors the heart’s electrical impulses in patients with an irregular pulse for one week.
Two weeks after being notified and tracked by an ECG patch, 34% of those with atrial fibrillation had been diagnosed. ECG patch monitoring is unlikely to miss atrial fibrillation because it is a transitory condition. The pulse detection algorithm has an 84 percent positive predictive value, according to a comparison of irregular pulse detection on Apple Watch and simultaneous ECG patch recordings.
Participants’ Apple Watches reported abnormal pulses during the ECG patch monitoring. If a participant’s pulse was irregular, the concurrent ECG patch confirmed atrial fibrillation 84 percent of the time. As a result, Perez believes Apple Watch’s algorithm can identify atrial fibrillation. The findings of this study could influence clinical trials.
Digital health alerts can also enhance patient involvement in the healthcare system, according to the study. As a result of an anomaly detected by their Apple Watch, 76 percent of participants contacted the telehealth provider or a non-study practitioner, indicating they sought medical attention.
App-based research introduced
It has been concluded that as app-based health studies grow in number, it would be important to develop new methods for improving self-report data quality and engagement.
The research design of future studies will be aided by the unique insights gained from the study about patient involvement and intervention. For one thing, the study’s fully digital nature eliminated the need for participants to be physically present, enabling a massive recruiting plan to be completed in a relatively short period. The research was also scalable at a modest extra cost because the screening was done by interacting with the app.
The study requires all participants to have an iPhone and an Apple Watch (Series 1 – 3). Although the Apple Watch Series 4 and 5 have an ECG built-in, they were not included in this study since they were released after it began.
Every time you opened the Apple Heart Study app, the heart-rate pulse sensor checked for abnormal readings. American Well offered to schedule a telemedicine consultation with one of the study’s doctors if an irregular pulse was detected. BioTelemetry provided participants with ECG patches to record their heart rhythms for up to a week.
A short glance at the outcomes
- A total of only 0.5% of participants received abnormal pulse alarms, which is significant in light of concerns about over-notification.
- The pulse identification approach (showing a positive tachogram reading) has a positive predictive value of 71% in tests between Apple Watch irregular pulse detection and contemporaneous electrocardiography patch recordings. The average percentage of people with irregular pulses that had been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation was 84 per cent.
- A week after receiving an ECG patch and receiving warnings about aberrant pulses, one third (34%) of the participants were found to have atrial fibrillation.
- It is not unexpected that later ECG patch monitoring misses atrial fibrillation since it is a transitory condition.
- 57 per cent of people with irregular pulses visited a doctor.
Apple Heart Study Conclusion
The study’s performance and accuracy provide valuable information in determining the health system’s impact on wearable technology. Atrial fibrillation is just the beginning, according to the Apple Heart Study. There may be discussions about other issues related to preventive medicine. By conducting more research, people will be able to make more informed decisions about their health.
You can check out our pick of the best ECG Monitoring smartwatches here.
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