This year, Apple and Johnson & Johnson will begin a multi-year study to see if the Apple Watch Series 4 combined with an app from the pharmaceutical company can help diagnose atrial fibrillation (AFib) faster.
In the US, each year 750,000 people are hospitalized, and 130,000 die because of atrial fibrillation which is a leading cause of stroke. Almost 30 of cases are diagnosed too late, when complications already occur. Globally, almost 33 million people have atrial fibrillation.
Apple and Johnson & Johnson will begin a controlled and randomized study on US people who are 65 years old or older. They will wear the Apple Watch Series 4 for the study. Details on how the study will take place will soon be released.
Apple’s Ambition: Greatly Contributing to People’s Health
The Apple Watch Series 4 has a notification feature that detects irregular heart rhythm. It also has an FDA approved ECG app, and together the two features are used to detect AFib.
Jeff Williams, the Apple Chief Operating Officer, stated that many users had contacted Apple about these features:
We are receiving thank you letters daily from Apple Watch wearers who are discovering they have AFib. We want a deeper understanding about outcomes and prevention associated with early detection. We are excited to work with Johnson & Johnson, which has a long history and expertise in cardiovascular disease.
According to the executive vice president and chief scientific officer at Johnson & Johnson, Paul Stoffels, the goal of the study is to prevent stroke applying everything they know both from Apple and medical and scientific information. Paul Burton, the vice president of medical affairs for internal medicine at the pharmaceutical company, added that the Watch “has a very very good detection rate,” explaining that there are also false positives.
Stoffels explained that they will respect the privacy of patients in clinical trials.
Burton added that the study could show that there are many more people with atrial fibrillation out there and “if you use a tool like an Apple Watch to detect and funnel people to care, you can really drive down stroke risk in those patients.”
In an interview with USA TODAY, Apple CEO Tim Cook stated that they have ambitious plans in medicine, and wants people in the future look back and see that Apple has had a great contribution to people’s health.
Jeff Wilkinson is a Senior Politics Reporter at Debate Report covering provincial and national politics, . Before joining Debate Report, Jeff worked on several provincial campaigns including Jack Layton. Jeff has worked as a freelance journalist in Toronto, having been published by over 20 outlets including CBC, the Center for Media and VICE.com.