Undoubtedly, Apple has long been setting the trend when it comes to developing health monitoring tech. However, it seems Fitbit is hot on Apple’s tails with its latest FDA approval.
Tech development background
In 2018, Apple became the first company to bring health monitoring to smartwatches when it received FDA approval for two popular features. These features were ECG monitoring and continuous heart rate monitoring – allowing the device to spot signs of atrial fibrillation (AFib).
Two years later, in September 2020, Fitbit partially caught up with Apple when it received FDA approval and a CE Mark for the use of its ECG app on the Fitbit Sense.
This certainly made the Fitbit Sense a competitor to the Apple Watch.
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So, what’s new?
On April 11th, 2022, Fitbit further closed the gap in terms of health monitoring tech as it received clearance from the FDA for its new algorithm to identify AFib. The algorithm will power Fitbit’s new Irregular Heart Rhythm Notifications feature.
How does the algorithm work?
Just like the Apple app, the algorithm is based on photoplethysmography (PPG) sensor technology – let’s break that mouthful down…
When your heart beats, tiny blood vessels throughout your body expand and contract based on changes in blood volume. Fitbit’s PPG optical heart-rate sensor can detect these volume changes right from your wrist. These measurements determine your heart rhythm, which the detection algorithm then analyzes for irregularities and potential signs of atrial fibrillation.https://blog.google/products/fitbit/irregular-heart-rhythm-notifications/
The Fitbit Heart Study validated the algorithm in 2020. You can read more about the study in our article here. The study found that the Fitbit PPG detections correctly identified AFib episodes 98% of the time.
Similar to the Apple Watch, this now gives Fitbit users two ways of monitoring for AFib. The first is via the ECG app, where users can check for AFib on demand. The second is via the Irregular Heart Rhythm Notifications that will automatically check even when users are still or sleeping.
Although there is no definite date for this feature to be rolled out, it is likely to be available in the US across the Sense, Versa Lite, Charge 4 and Inspire 2.
Fitbit released this statement on the day the approval was granted:
We want to make AFib detection as accessible as possible to help reduce the risk of potentially life-threatening events — like stroke — and ultimately improve overall heart health for everyone. We’ll continue to work with the BMS-Pfizer Alliance to develop educational content for patients and healthcare providers that will help identify and support people in the U.S. with irregular heart rhythms consistent with atrial fibrillation.Fitbit
So, has this news made you consider a Fitbit for your next wearable? If so, check out our full comparison of all Fitbit models here.
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Last Updated on April 19, 2022
Emma brings over a decade of freelance copy and content writing experience and is our Editor, Social Media Manager, and regular contributor. Specializing in long-form content such as blogs, articles, lead magnets, and white papers, Emma also provides businesses with email marketing, website copy, and landing pages.