The Cardiogram app for the Apple Watch can help detect heart disease

Apple Watch Series 2
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
Turns out the Apple Watch is good for more than just telling the time, tracking steps, and dictating text messages. It can detect heart disease, too.

That is according to a study presented at Heart Rhythm 2017, the Heart Society’s 38th Annual Scientific Sessions, on Thursday. Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco Division of Cardiology paired an artificial intelligence with the Apple Watch’s photoplethysmographic (PPG) sensors — the LEDs that record heart rate — to build an algorithm that could detect conditions like arrhythmia and atrial fibrillation (AF).

Atrial fibrillation, which affects more than 2.7 million American adults, was the study’s principle focus. Researchers recruited more than 6,000 users of the Cardiogram app for Apple Watch and collected more than 139 million heart rate measurements and 6,338 mobile electrocardiograms — records of the heart’s electrical activity — over the course of several months. The data was used to train a deep neural network, a human-like form of AI, to distinguish between atrial fibrillation and a normal, healthy heart rhythm.

cardiogram app heart study capture

The study’s authors validated the neural network against a subgroup of 51 patients set to undergo cardioversion, a medical procedure that restores the heart to a normal rhythm. Each wore an Apple Watch with the Cardiogram app for 20 minutes before the procedure and 20 minutes after and found that the AI correctly detected atrial fibrillation 97 percent of the time. That is higher than any previous algorithm.

“Our results show that common wearable trackers like smartwatches present a novel opportunity to monitor, capture and prompt medical therapy for atrial fibrillation without any active effort from patients,” Dr. Gregory Marcus, Director of Clinical Research at UCSF’s Division of Cardiology, said in a statement.

The researchers point out that smartwatches like the Apple Watch present a novel opportunity to diagnose hard-to-detect illnesses. They cite a recent survey indicating that as many as one in five Americans owns a wearable fitness tracker. “With the growing number of people using this mobile technology, there is an opportunity to address public health issues such as undiagnosed AF in a way that is convenient for many,” the study said.

Already, the authors are exploring the potential for broader wearable self-diagnosis and testing the AI to identify other health conditions.

cardiogram app heart study app1500x844

They are not the only ones. AliveCor, a smartwatch accessory maker, produces Apple Watch cases with built-in ECG monitors that can detect heart palpitations. And a study by scientists at Stanford University found that wearables like the Apple Watch can spot the onset of a potential cold or disease.

Apple is experimenting, too. In September, Bloomberg reported the company was working on new HealthKit apps with rudimentary sleep and heart rate analysis. It is also planning to make the medical data the Apple Watch collects usable for diagnoses — potentially via Gliimpse, a technology it acquired this year that collates medical databases in a single location.

“While mobile technology screening won’t replace more conventional monitoring methods, it has the potential to successfully screen those at an increased risk and lower the number of undiagnosed cases of AF,” Marcus said.

Download Cardiogram for iOS

Health & Fitness

Withings new Pulse HR is a customizable, connected fitness tracker

Inspired by Withings first ever fitness tracker the Pulse, the new Pulse HR is updated with the latest in fitness tracker technology including smart notifications, 24/7 heart rate tracking, and more.
Emerging Tech

Watch this lab-grown heart tissue beat just like the real thing

A team of researchers in Germany have used stem cells to create a lab-grown human heart tissue which actually beats, as well as responding to drugs in the same way as the real thing.
Deals

Make some time for the best smartwatch deals for November 2018

Smartwatches make your life easier by sending alerts right on your wrist. Many also provide fitness-tracking features. So if you're ready to take the plunge into wearables and want to save money, read on for the best smartwatch deals.
Deals

The best Apple Watch deals for November 2018

The Apple Watch has surged to prominence in recent years. If you're in the market for an iOS wearable, we've sniffed out the best Apple Watch deals available right now for all three models of this great smartwatch.
Mobile

Google rolls out Night Sight to Pixel 3 and 3 XL camera app

Google's latest flagships, the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, are now official and we have all the details from the October 9 event in New York City and Paris. Here's everything we know about the Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL.
Mobile

You can now message businesses straight through Google Maps

Google has been updating Maps with a ton of new features over the past few months, and now it's back with another one -- the ability for users to message businesses directly through the Maps app.
Mobile

No cash. No talking. What goes next? Welcome to your ‘app-tive’ digital life

Bank of America's 2018 Trends in Consumer Mobility Report found mobility has changed our lives. Mobile tech influences how most of us communicate, meet people, build relationships, and handle money as we move toward a cashless society.
Mobile

The Motiv smart ring is coming to 20 more countries and physical stores

Remember Motiv's activity tracking smart ring? It's back with a raft of new features that adds biometric identification and token authentication, all on a device that fits on your finger.
Wearables

Everything you need to know about Garmin’s GPS watches and trackers

Garmin jumped into the GPS smartwatch and fitness tracker market five years ago and has built a portfolio of devices that rivals competitor Fitbit. Here's your guide to the latest and greatest fitness devices that Garmin has to offer.
Mobile

Sharp doubles down on the notch trend with Aquos R2 Compact

As if one notch wasn't enough, Japanese manufacturer Sharp unveiled a new smartphone that has two -- one teardrop style notch at the top, and a bigger notch at the bottom. Here's what the world's first dual-notch smartphone looks like.
Mobile

Verizon has made its first 5G video call … with a phone that’s already out

Verizon has announced that it has successfully made its first video call, using a smartphone that's already available: The Motorola Moto Z3. To make the call, Verizon used the 5G Moto Mod.
Mobile

Samsung patents show what Infinity-O display could look like on Galaxy S10

While we still may be months away from an announcement, there's no doubt about it: Samsung is working hard on its successor to the Galaxy S9. Here's everything we know about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S10.
Home Theater

Google Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra: Everything you need to know

Google's Chromecast plugs into your TV's HDMI port, allowing you to stream content from your tablet, laptop, or smartphone directly to your TV. Here's what you need to know about all iterations, including the 4K-ready Chromecast Ultra.
Mobile

The best protective iPhone cases to defend against dirt, dings, and drops

If you’re going off-road or work outdoors, it could be a good idea to invest in a tough case. These are our picks of the best protective iPhone cases for all iterations of the iPhone, from the iPhone XS to the 7.