Enrollment for the Apple Heart trial has been completed by Stanford University’s School of Medicine, and the study rationale and design has already been published in the American Heart Journal.
“The advantage of the app that uses the optical sensor is that it can check for an irregular pulse multiple times throughout the day in the background, without needing the user to actively engage the application,” study principal investigator Marco Perez of Stanford’s Cardiovascular Medicine said in a prepared statement.
Investigators in the trial aim to explore whether wearable technology can successfully identify pulse irregularity, in hopes that it may be able to identify previously unknown atrial fibrillation. The watch analyzes pulse-rate data with an optical sensor, using LED lights and light-sensitive photodiodes to measure changes in the volume of blood flowing through the users wrist.
If atrial fibrillation is detected, participants will be alerted through a notification system on the Apple Watch or Apple Heart application. Subjects will then proceed through a telehealth video visit with a doctor and receive an electrocardiogram monitoring patch to confirm the AF diagnosis.
Any participants who experience urgent symptoms will be directed to their local urgent care or emergency room facilities.
“We now have access to high-quality sensors that can measure and detect changes in our bodies in entirely new and insightful ways without even needing to go to the doctor, but we need to rigorously evaluate them,” study principal investigator Mintu Turakhia of Stanford’s Cardiovascular Medicine said in a press release.