Could Your Apple Watch Save Your Life?

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Apple's Heart Study app is now available in the US App Store.

Apple wants to help catch AFib for its Watch users before it's too late. While others have used Apple's software and devices in medical studies, this is the first time the Cupertino company has actually sponsored one itself.

Among those using or favoring the Apple Watch in remote monitoring programs are New Orleans-based Ochsner Health, Johns Hopkins University (which is using the smartwatch in a research study on triggers for epileptic seizures), Aetna and Humana.

Apple is teaming up with Stanford Medicine to launch a new app that uses data garnered from the Apple Watch hear-rate sensor to determine whether a user is experiencing abnormal heart rhythms.

"This might seem like a simple study, but we think this is a really special time", said Apple Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams in an interview with CNBC. Over the past year and a half, Cardiogram has been using it's own algorithm and the Watch's sensor in a study involving heart health with the University of California San Francisco. If an AFib is detected, users will receive a push notification, as well as a free consultation with a doctor that's a part of the study and an electrocardiogram patch for further monitoring of the condition.

Could Your Apple Watch Save Your Life?
Could Your Apple Watch Save Your Life?

Along with the KardiaBand, an mHealth-enabled watch band that records a patient's EKG in 30 seconds, AliveCor is launching SmartRhythm, a feature within the company's Kardia mobile app that allows Apple Watch users to synch heart rate and activity sensors in the watch to track heart rate and activity. "We're excited to work with Apple on this breakthrough heart study". Now go to the Identify your Apple Watch web page and match your model number to the list. Traditionally, researchers have had to seek out study participants directly - through medical facilities, by email or with fliers.

"This study is the first to bring connected care to clinical research, moving the cycle from the hospital to the home through a combination of wearables, analytics, telehealth and consumer devices", Ido Schoenberg, chairman and CEO of American Well, said in a statement emailed to FierceHealthcare.

Apple declined to say how long the study will run. This study is being conducted in collaboration with Stanford Medicine to accelerate discovery in heart science.

Hayley Tsukayama is a Washington Post writer.

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