Millions of people with irregular heartbeats are prescribed expensive anticoagulants, which prevent strokes, but also increase the risk of bleeding. A new study will investigate whether the Apple Watch can be used as part of a strategy to minimize the use of those drugs when they’re not needed.
Mario Aguilar for Stat:
The seven-year study, which is expected to launch next spring, will compare strokes, bleeding and healthcare costs between people receiving the standard course of blood thinners and an experimental group that will be directed to take medications only after an Apple Watch detects atrial fibrillation. prolonged.
The study, which received $ 37 million in funding from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, aims to enroll 5,400 participants. The American Heart Association, Johns Hopkins, Stanford and the University of California, San Francisco are also partners in the study, which will focus on a population of relatively low-risk people who have no history of stroke, congestive heart failure. or other conditions.
If the experimental arm of the study can prevent strokes, as well as the standard of care and reduce bleeding cases, it would be a major advance for cardiac care. It would also be a coup for Apple, which for years has been developing – and aggressively marketing – features that detect irregular heart rhythms in individuals, but has yet to prove that they can directly impact care and improve outcomes.
Apple will donate devices to the project and is assisting in the development of the studio application. As part of that work, the company is helping researchers build a custom algorithm for the study that will check participants’ heart rhythm much more frequently than the algorithm available to the general public. After detecting atrial fibrillation that lasts for several hours, patients will be directed by the software to take anticoagulants until the highest risk of stroke is passed, rather than being left on the medications indefinitely.
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