Stanford recently released the results of their Apple Heart Study. The Apple Heart Study was a study that collected data from more than 400,000 patients wearing the Apple Watch. The study tracked patients, what notifications they received, and their activities. Essentially Stanford wanted to see if the Apple Watch was a viable tool to track heart conditions such as AFIB.
AFIB is a serious medical issue. It’s an irregularity in the heartbeat which can cause issues like blood clots and strokes. Unfortunately, once AFIB occurs, patients have very little time to get to a hospital for treatment. For many, if treatment is received within 24 hours, the patient may have to wait up to 30 days to receive further treatment. That’s because if treatment is administered later than 24 hours it could do more harm than good. Doctors are forced to adhere to that waiting period to avoid creating further complications. That waiting period by itself could still prove to be fatal for patients, though. Unfortunately its believed that many instances of AFIB go undetected.
Apple’s latest addition to its Watch line is capable of measuring AFIB. It’s an FDA approved device that can track data and send users notifications if it detects complications. Patients get advanced notice and can make it to an emergency room for further treatment.
Critics worried that these new features in the Apple Watch would create hysteria amongst its users. Essentially the new Apple Watch would create another generation of WebMD hypochondriacs where everyone thought they were had serious medical emergencies. These critics worried that people would flood emergency rooms and take time away from their doctors for other actual, serious medical issues.
The Stanford study seems to show this may not be the case, though. The Apple Heart Study showed that out of the 400,000 patients, only 0.5% received notifications of potential AFIB. In other words, only 2,000 people received warnings about potential health issues.
What does this mean?
The Apple Watch may actually prove to be a viable, over-the-counter medical device that patients can use to track serious life-threatening issues. Other AFIB detection devices exist, but they are expensive and difficult to get. Many are only available outside of the United States. The new Apple Watch offers a viable device that patients with a history of AFIB can buy right now that may save their life. Though many people gawk at the price of an Apple Watch, to a patient with a history of AFIB the $400 price tag may be more than worthwhile.
I guess the next big question is will insurance companies start to cover some of the cost of these devices?