With the ability to measure your heart rate, detect if you fall, and record an electrocardiogram, the Apple Watch is a surprisingly handy medical device. With a third party accessory called the AURA strap, it can even measure your body composition and hydration levels. How cool is that?
Now, Apple is partnering with pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson to see if the Apple Watch can also detect the symptoms of a stroke. The study will see if the Apple Watch can detect Atrial fibrillation (also called AFib or AF) for early diagnosis.
So far, the study has had positive results, although there have also been a few false positives. Ironing these out is essential for the technology to be of use. Otherwise, it would lead to misdiagnosis. Cardiologist Paul Burton, Johnson & Johnson’s vice president of medical affairs for internal medicine, believes AFib is much more common than thought and that the Apple Watch can be of use to diagnose it.
Apple CEO Tim Cook recently said Apple will contribute greatly to health in the future, saying in an interview with CNBC, “On healthcare in particular and your wellbeing, this is an area that I believe, if you zoom out into the future, and you look back, and you ask the question, “What was Apple’s greatest contribution to mankind,” it will be about health.”
The study into strokes is a step toward this. If the Apple Watch can be used to identify the early signs of a stroke it could save lives.
Research into AFib has other potential health benefits since it can lead to blood clots, heart failure and other heart-related complications. One thing to keep in mind though is in its current format, a dedicated separate app is needed on the Apple Watch. In the future, the Apple Watch may detect AFib out of the box.