Fitbit (NYSE:FIT) recently announced it launched its first large-scale, virtual study to validate the use of its wearables in atrial fibrillation detection.
The Fitbit Heart Study is part of Fitbit’s larger strategy to make easy-to-use tools for the detection of a range of conditions. The goal of the study is to enroll hundreds of thousands of people for results that will support the company’s regulatory submissions globally.
Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is a heart condition characterized by an irregular and rapid heartbeat. It can increase the risk of stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications, according to the Mayo Clinic. The heart condition affects nearly 33.5 million people worldwide.
“Until recently, tools for detecting AFib had a number of limitations and were only accessible if you visited a doctor,” principal investigator of the Fitbit Heart Study Steven Lubitz said in a news release. “My hope is that advancing research on innovative and accessible technology, like Fitbit devices, will lead to more tools that help improve health outcomes and reduce the impact of AFib on a large scale.”
Fitbit wearables feature 24/7 heart rate tracking powered by a long battery life that allows users to wear the device for multiple days. The company said that the heart rate tracking enables long-term heart rhythm assessments, including when people sleep.
“Since we first brought heart rate tracking to the wrist in 2015, we have continued to innovate and provide users with a deeper understanding of their heart health through features like Sleep Stages, Cardio Fitness Level and now Active Zone Minutes,” co-founder and CTO Eric Friedman said. “The Fitbit Heart Study advances our heart health efforts. Long-term passive heart rhythm assessment with our wide range of affordable devices powered by 24/7 heart rate tracking technology has the potential to improve earlier identification of AFib, which is a key to reducing the risk of a life-threatening event like a stroke. By doing this important research we have the opportunity to develop and provide access to technology that may be able to improve public health and save lives.”
To track heart rate, Fitbit wearables use photoplethysmography technology to measure the rate of blood flow directly from the wrist. The measurements can then be used to determine a heart rhythm, in which the company’s algorithm will analyze irregularities during the Fitbit Heart Study.