Study shows regular wearables can detect sleep apnea and hypertension

The latest study to show the health potential of wearables
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Earlier this year, Cardiogram revealed some results from a study conducted with University of California, San Francisco, which showed that the Apple Watch can detect atrial fibrillation with a 97% accuracy rate. The two are now showing off the latest results from its survey, and it extends to sleep apnea and hypertension

It found that all wearables - whether it be Apple Watch or Fitbit or Garmin or Android Wear - can detect both sleep apnea and hypertension when paired with an AI neural network called DeepHeart. One in three people have hypertension, also known as chronic high blood pressure, while 80% with sleep apnea don't know they have it.

Read this: The best heart rate monitors

According to the study, DeepHeart was able to analyze a week's worth of regular, boring wearable data - the kind you can pull off your device right now - and detect subtle patterns associated with hypertension and sleep apnea. These patterns, according to Cardiogram and UCSF, are invisible to the naked eye.

Of the 6,115 Cardiogram users in the study, 2,230 had hypertension and 1,016 had sleep apnea. DeepHeart was trained on 70% of the participants, and had an accuracy rate of 90% on detecting sleep apnea and 82% on hypertension. DeepHeart was trained on 57,675 person-weeks of data, sifting through a grand total of 140 million heart rate measurements and 63 million step counts.

Cardiogram has been looking into the potential of heart rate sensors on wearable devices for a while now, and thus far the results of its studies have come off as a way to measure how good a certain device's sensor or software is, like the Apple Watch atrial fibrillation detection. However, this study feels like a breakthrough for all wearables.

Rather than saying a specific wearable can detect health problems like hypertension and sleep apnea, it says most of them can as long as they're paired up with a powerful AI agent like DeepHeart. It's incredibly exciting to see that the potential of wearables to let us know about dangerous health conditions - non-invasively - is alive and well, but this also requires the companies in charge of these platforms to deliver on software and AI as good as DeepHeart.

Unfortunately, it's unlikely something like DeepHeart exactly makes its way into every wearable, since we live in a world of ecosystems, but this technology is just around the corner. After all, Fitbit is working on sleep apnea for the Ionic, and Apple is cooking up even more serious health tracking in its labs.

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Husain Sumra


Husain joined Wareable in 2017 as a member of our San Fransisco based team. Husain is a movies expert, and runs his own blog, and contributes to MacRumors.

He has spent hours in the world of virtual reality, getting eyes on Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Samsung Gear VR. 

At Wareable, Husain's role is to investigate, report and write features and news about the wearable industry – from smartwatches and fitness trackers to health devices, virtual reality, augmented reality and more.

He writes buyers guides, how-to content, hardware reviews and more.

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