Apple Teams With Johnson & Johnson For Apple Watch Heart Study

Posted by at 4:52 pm on January 18, 2019

Apple and Johnson & Johnson have announced a research study collaboration involving the Apple Watch, that aims to see if wearing the device can lead to earlier detection and better outcomes for patients living with Atrial Fibrillation (AFib), a heart disorder. This condition can go undiagnosed in as many as 30% of cases until potentially life-threatening complications occur.

The companies will investigate if a new heart health program and a recently developed app by Johnson & Johnson, in combination with the Apple Watch and its irregular rhythm notifications and electrocardiogram (ECG) app, can accelerate the diagnosis and treatment for the more than 33 million people worldwide afflicted with AFib. This study will take place in the U.S. and focus on those age 65 years or older.

Atrial fibrillation (Afib) is the most common form of arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat. Patients with the disorder may experience mild or no symptoms at all until the condition is severe. The result is blood clots that form in the heart, which can cause strokes, heart failure or other severe health complications.

The condition is particularly prevalent among seniors, present among about 9% of those over the age of 65, compared to just 2% among younger members of the population.

The study, which will be launched later this year, will “analyze the impact of Apple Watch on the early detection and diagnosis of AFib, and the potential to improve outcomes including the prevention of stroke.” Janssen Pharmaceuticals, the drug division of Johnson & Johnson, is partnering with Apple on the study.

The most recent version of the Apple Watch, the Series 4, includes electrodes built into the digital crown (button on the side of the watch) and back crystal. Used in conjunction with the ECG app, this technology underpins the Watch’s ability to test the user’s heart rhythm by holding the digital crown button down for 30 seconds, classifying the heart rhythm as normal, AFib, or inconclusive. The ECG can be recorded to share with the user’s doctor.

Johnson & Johnson completed an earlier study — mSTOPs (mHealth Screening to Prevent Strokes) — which demonstrated that earlier screening leads to increased AFib detection. The Apple Watch’s ability to detect AFib could be a powerful tool in detecting a condition patients may not even know they have.

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