Study Finds Smart Watches Can Accurately Detect Atrial Fibrillation

New research has found that smart watches can be used to detect atrial fibrillation accurately using an electrocardiogram application. Atrial fibrillation is an irregular heart rhythm that may cause blood clots. It also heightens an individual’s risk of heart failure and stroke, among other heart-related complications.

The research, which was conducted earlier this year, discovered that the Apple Watch could be used to diagnose this arrhythmia. For their study, the researchers looked into the accuracy of this device when testing individuals who had abnormal electrocardiograms.

The lead author of the study, Dr. Marc Strick, stated that this technology was widely used, with data showing that roughly 50 million Apple Watches had been sold this year. The researchers used 734 individuals who had been hospitalized as participants in the study. Each patient underwent a 12-lead electrocardiogram, which was followed by an electrocardiogram recording done using the Apple Watch.

The smart device classified the 30-second recordings as atrial fibrillation, no signs of atrial fibrillation or inconclusive readings. Once this was done, an electrophysiologist viewed the smart watch recordings blindly, categorizing them as absence of atrial fibrillation, atrial fibrillation and diagnosis unclear. The researchers then had a different electrophysiologist interpret selected electrocardiogram recordings randomly.

They discovered that the Apple Watch failed to produce an automatic diagnosis in 20% of the incidents, explaining that the possibility of obtaining a false negative was higher in individuals with premature ventricular and atrial contractions, second- or third-degree atrioventricular block, and sinus mode dysfunction. This risk was also higher in individuals with pacemakers as well as in those with other heart-rate abnormalities.

The researchers also reported that the application accurately identified 81% and 78% of individuals without and with atrial fibrillation incidents, respectively. Comparably, both electrophysiologists identified 89% who did not have and 97% of individuals who did have atrial fibrillation incidents. Additionally, the researchers found that the smart watch application was more likely to give a false positive in individuals with premature ventricular contractions.

A cardiologist who has specialized in cardiac implantable electronic devices, Strick added that more healthcare professionals were embracing the technology. He noted that, despite this, the device’s application in clinical practice was limited because of algorithm limitations, lack of organization and reimbursement issues.

The researchers noted in their report that the lack of immediate feedback and the device’s limited battery life could reduce its effectiveness. The study’s findings were reported in the “Canadian Journal of Cardiology.”

As technologies to detect heart disease more easily become available from innovative entities such as HeartBeam Inc. (NASDAQ: BEAT), the cost and availability of the latest ECG equipment is likely to drop significantly.

NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to HeartBeam Inc. (NASDAQ: BEAT) are available in the company’s newsroom at

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