Fitbit goes big on helping to detect the early signs of atrial fibrillation

AFib detection software for Fitbit devices will seek FDA clearance
Fitbit's doing an AFib study
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Fitbit has announced that it's taking a detailed look at atrial fibrillation (Afib), teaming up with a big pharma in the form of the Bristol-Myers Squibb-Pfizer alliance.

The announcement's timed to coincide with the Time 100 Health Summit in New York, and indicates that Fitbit has ambitions as lofty as Apple when it comes to heart health on its smartwatches and fitness trackers.

Read more: The best heart rate monitors to use

Of course, some of Fitbit's foremost trackers, including the Versa 2, haven't so far been able to detect irregularities in your heartbeat on their own. It's been letting people in the UK, Ireland, Belgium and the Netherlands use Fibricheck, a prominent third-party AFib service for smartwatches, to monitor for issues.

However, it's now confirmed that Fitbit plans to submit its devices to the FDA for clearance to use its own AFib detection software.

This change won't be the end of it, though. Fitbit says that part of the issue is that even people with sophisticated wearables don't necessarily understand what to do with the heart rate data they get from their devices.

Therefore, it will be working with the Bristol-Myers Squibb-Pfizer alliance to develop educational content and guidance that people can access, to help them make the right decisions and get to a doctor before they suffer adverse consequences, such as strokes.

Fitbit's clearly making moves in the area of heart health - which is probably for the best, given how Apple is zeroing in on heart health too. It debuted a new heart study of its own when it showed off the Apple Watch Series 5 for the first time.

There's no timeline currently detailed for Fitbit's study, or indeed on the approval of its AFib software. The FDA can often take ages to approve this sort of tech, but we'll be keeping an eye out for any further announcements on this front.

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