-post by David Dansereau Know-Stroke.org
Stanford Medicine published its long-awaited research on the Apple Heart Study, which represents one of the largest research efforts of its kind that relies on consumer devices to better understand human health. The research, published on Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, looked at how the Apple Watch could be used to detect atrial fibrillation (aFib), a condition that is associated with an increased risk of stroke.
I participated in the Apple Heart Study and mentioned it at several points during my marathon training in previous posts on this blog.
- More than 400,000 people signed up for the Apple Heart Study (including me!), which makes it one of the largest research efforts ever.
- About 0.5% of the participants, or just over 2,000 people, received a notification of an irregular pulse.
- Among those who were identified by the Apple Watch as having an irregular pulse, and who then went on to return an electrocardiogram patch, 84% of their subsequent notifications were confirmed to be atrial fibrillation. That indicates that this kind of passive monitoring can be effective, although further studies are needed.
- According to reports on CNBC on the study release, “the results of the Apple Heart Study are promising, but they still haven’t convinced cardiologists that Apple Watch, and other wearable devices, are the right tool for monitoring people for signs of atrial fibrillation.”
- One main reason given in the report is that cardiologists admit, “these sorts of tools for monitoring heart health are developing faster than the medical community can respond to them” and “that the medical system is still not properly treating all the folks who are known to already be at high risk of aFib”.
Cardiologist Comments with Summary of Suggestions-
Jeff Wessler, a cardiologist based in New York, mentioned as a way to improve the study design, were Apple to sponsor further research, “he would target more time finding the right population that’s most at risk” *.Cardiologist Jeff Wessler
Overall, cardiologists like Wessler say that the study is positive. It shows that there’s a lot of potential for large-scale studies using a combination of tools and technologies to monitor patients remotely, rather than requiring an on-site visit. And that’s good for the burgeoning digital health sector overall.
“The probability of receiving an irregular pulse notification was low. Among participants who received notification of an irregular pulse, 34% had atrial fibrillation on subsequent ECG patch readings and 84% of notifications were concordant with atrial fibrillation. This siteless (no on-site visits were required for the participants), pragmatic study design provides a foundation for large-scale pragmatic studies in which outcomes or adherence can be reliably assessed with user-owned devices.”
Apple; Apple Heart Study
ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT03335800
* My opinion:
We have a targeted stroke population that studies already show may be at higher risk of another event. Let’s not wait for another cardiac or stroke event!
We need to act FAST and equip stroke survivors with digital tools like Apple Watch and other similar validated wearables that can remotely monitor, track, report and intervene when necessary by analyzing user-generated health data to improve survivorship, prove prevention outcomes success and empower better recovery.David Dansereau, Physical Therapist-Know-Stroke.org
Let’s work together to deliver better care today- the technology exist! Let’s get it in the hands of those that can benefit the most.