Technology

Apple Heart Study App Explores Technology-Health Connection

Apple has launched a new research study for heart patients that’s centered around the Apple Watch. The study will be conducted in partnership with Stanford Medicine using the new Apple Heart Study app on the watch.

Apple heart study app
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Apple Heart Study app launched

In a press release, the company announced the launch of the Apple Heart Study app and the research study that will utilize it. According to the iPhone maker, the study is the first of its kind, and it will utilize the heart rate sensor on the Apple Watch. The sensor will collect data on participants’ hearts, specifically around irregular rhythms. The sensor then notifies users who might be in atrial fibrillation, also known as AFib.

AFib is the top cause of strokes, the company explained. About 130,000 people die in the U.S. every year due to AFib, and another 750,000 hospitalizations are also caused by it. However, many people don’t have any symptoms warning them that they’re experiencing AFib, which means that heart conditions are going undiagnosed.

How the Apple Watch measures heart rate

The heart rate sensor in the Apple Watch is designed to catch problems like irregular heartbeats which don’t always cause symptoms. Apple designed the sensor with “green LED lights flashing hundreds of times per second and light-sensitive photodiodes to detect the amount of blood flowing through the wrist.”

The sensor takes signals from four places on the Apple Watch user’s wrist, and then, using software algorithms, the watch is able to isolate the heart rate and separate it from other noise. The Apple Heart Study app utilizes the sensor and technology in the Apple Watch to identify when heart rhythms are irregular.

Apple partners with Stanford Medicine

Apple Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams said they have been receiving stories and letters from Apple Watch users who said they found out that they have AFib, and these letters were the inspiration behind the Apple Heart Study app.

The company and Stanford Medicine are teaming up for the research study using the Apple Heart Study app. The study seems very simple. Whenever the app identifies an irregular heart rhythm, Apple Watch users will receive notifications on both their smartwatch and their iPhone. They will also receive a free consultation with one of the doctors who are participating in the study and an ECG (electrocardiogram) patch so that their heart health can continue to be monitored.

The goal of the study is for Stanford Medicine faculty to see how technology like the heart rate sensor in Apple’s smartwatch “can help usher in a new era of proactive health care central to our Precision Health approach,” Stanford University School of Medicine Dean Lloyd Minor explained in a statement.

Customers who are at least 22 years old and have an Apple Watch Series 1 or later can download the Apple Heart Study app in the U.S. App Store.