Stanford Medicine to collaborate on Apple Heart Study

The study will make use of an app to determine whether the Apple Watch’s heart-rate sensor can help detect a heart condition known as atrial fibrillation.

Stanford Medicine researchers are working with Apple on a research study to determine whether the Apple Watch’s heart-rate sensor can identify irregular heart rhythms associated with a condition known as atrial fibrillation.

The Apple Heart Study app was launched Nov. 30. As part of the study, if an irregular heart rhythm is observed, participants will receive a notification on their Apple Watch and iPhone, a free consultation with a study doctor and an electrocardiograph patch for additional monitoring.

Each year in the United States, atrial fibrillation causes 130,000 deaths and 750,000 hospitalizations. It can lead to blood clots and is a leading cause of stroke, but many don’t experience symptoms, so it often goes undiagnosed. 

The sensor in the Apple Watch uses LED lights to measure heart rate. The technology can also monitor the pattern of the heartbeat. The app uses this technology combined with software algorithms to identify an irregular heart rhythm.

“Through the Apple Heart Study, Stanford Medicine faculty will explore how technology like Apple Watch’s heart-rate sensor can help usher in a new era of proactive health care central to our precision health approach,” said Lloyd Minor, MD, dean of the School of Medicine.

Doctors and medical researchers around the world have been using iPhone and Apple Watch to study various aspects of health. To date, Apple’s ResearchKit and CareKit platforms have been used by over 500 researchers and more than 3 million participants.

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