While we often criticize optical heart rate tech as being sub-par when it comes to high-intensity exercise, it's certainly come along way in the last couple of years, especially when you're just tracking your beats during normal routines. Case in point: a new study has revealed the Apple Watch is 97% accurate when it comes to detecting a common cause of heart failure.
Heart rate app developer Cardiogram worked with the University of California, San Francisco, in a study of 6,158 participants. The goal was to find out how well the Apple Watch could detect atrial fibrillation, a leading cause of heart failure.
The Watch was paired with artificial intelligence to create an algorithm that could detect the difference in heart rate variability caused by atrial fibrillation, which is often hard for doctors to diagnose.
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1 in 4 strokes are caused by AF, and this type of result gives great hope in the power of wearables for detecting and diagnosing abnormalities. These are still early days for Cardiogram, and you won't see AF detection rolling out onto the app just yet, but it's a huge step forward nonetheless.
"The most promising finding of our study is proof that consumer-grade wearables can be used to detect disease," wrote Cardiogram software engineer Avesh Singh in a blog post. "The future is bright here, and there are a few research directions that are particularly interesting to us."
Cardiogram says it now wants to ensure the algorithm works in a range of conditions including sleeping, running and driving. But Singh envisions a future where this information can not only warn users that they might be at risk, but advise them how to treat the problem too.