According to a new release of Apple Heart Study data at American College of Cardiology Scientific Session, wearable technology including fitness watches and smart watches are no longer the future of medicine. Even though previous studies suggested that smart watches were capable of identifying Atrial Fibrillation, still a large amount of work is needed to incorporate this large data into existing healthcare system.
Wearable technology, including wrist-worn smartwatches and fitness monitors, is no longer the “future” of medicine. The use of wearable technologies and the potential in cardiology has become an intense topic of discussion in recent years. Of particular interest this year was the release of the Apple Heart Study data at the American College of Cardiology Scientific Session in March.
Anticipated results of the Apple Heart Study, which evaluated how well a smartwatch (Apple Watch) could identify atrial fibrillation and prompt subsequent clinical evaluation to confirm the diagnosis, showed that the wearable technology was beneficial.
Despite how some physicians view the Apple Heart Study results, the large research showed that new technologies, such as the Apple Watch and other wearables, have the potential to complement health care systems and strategies to identify AF and other conditions. Still, more work must be done to incorporate this large mass of data into existing health care systems.
“Using new technologies can identify otherwise undiagnosed AF before it causes problems,” Cardiology Today Editorial Board Member and Next Gen Innovator Seth S. Martin, MD, MHS, FACC, FAHA, FASPC, associate professor of medicine and cardiologist at the Johns Hopkins Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease, said in an interview. “Once potential AF is found in this new way, tie-in with the health care system is necessary to confirm diagnosis, assess AF burden and sort out appropriate treatment.”
Even beyond AF, Cardiology Today interviewed leading physicians about the potential of wearable technologies in cardiology, and current challenges.
Broad potential of new technologies
Consumer-grade wearables are capable of measuring several factors that are important to cardiologists, including physical activity, which is assessed through an accelerometer and a gyroscope. Wearables can also calculate how many steps a patient is taking, which can be a helpful measurement for cardiologists, although more research is needed to determine how this metric affects the heart and health in general.
Several devices have received FDA clearance to be used in conjunction with the Apple Watch and iPhone to detect several types of arrhythmias. ECG technology (KardiaMobile, AliveCor) received two 510(k) clearances in April for its ability to detect bradycardia and tachycardia. A month later, a novel six-lead personal ECG device (KardiaMobile 6L, AliveCor) was also cleared by the FDA to detect arrhythmias.