With this new app, your Apple Watch might save your life.
Apple launched the Apple Heart Study app on Thursday, which will collect data on your heart rhythms using the Apple Watch, and send you a notification if you may be experiencing atrial fibrillation (AFib).
To track your heart, the Apple Watch’s sensor uses flashing LED lights and light-sensitive photodiodes to detect the amount of blood pumping through your wrist. Apple is partnering with the Stanford University School of Medicine to conduct the study.
If your watch discovers an irregular heart rhythm, Apple will provide a free consultation with a study doctor, and an electrocardiogram (ECG) patch to continue monitoring your heart rate.
Apple and Stanford will also aggregate the data the watch collects for macro-level insight on the Apple Watch’s effectiveness as a medical tool. In the past year, Stanford has funded a number of studies on digital health, and the use of the Apple Watch in multiple areas of medicine. Stanford will use the study to further evaluate the effectiveness of the Apple Watch as a tool of proactive health care.
Apple unveiled the Apple Heart Study at its iPhone Event in September, along with the new watchOS. “We’ve been looking at this for a couple of years, and we think Apple Watch can help,” said Apple COO Jeff Williams, of AFib, at the keynote.
He also noted that the Apple Watch has successfully identified arrhythmia in previous third-party studies. Since the launch of Apple’s open-source ResearchKit in 2015, universities have been able to use the iPhone and Apple Watch in their medical research.
ResearchKit has enabled 12 research study apps, including a Concussion Tracking app from NYU Langone, a mole-mapping app that detects melanoma from Oregon Health and Science University, and an app promoting sleep health from the University of California San Diego, all of which are free on the app store. Stanford also has a ResearchKit app of its own, called MyHeart Counts, which studies general heart health.
This is the first heart study that Apple itself will conduct.
You can download the Apple Heart Study for free from the app store if you’re 22 or older and have an Apple Watch.
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