The app will be used to collect data for the Apple Heart Study.
Apple has launched a new app that allows for the collection of heart rhythm data through the Apple Watch heart sensor, which the company will use as part of its ongoing effort to identify cardiovascular irregularities.
The company first announced it would begin using the Apple Watch as a means of identifying sufferers of atrial fibrillation (AFib), back in September during the launch of watchOS 4. Now the company has released a new app to help launch the study.
Apple is working alongside Stanford University on the Apple Heart Study project, with the goal of providing accurate heart rate data that can be used within the medical community.
AFib is a heart condition that causes an irregular and often abnormally high heart rate in sufferers. While normal resting heart rates will be between 60 and 100 beats per minute, patients with AFib may experience rates considerably higher than 100 beats per minute.
This abnormally high heart rate can lead to dizziness, heart palpitations, or a shortness of breath, and is considered one of the leading causes of stroke in the US. However, in many cases the condition is symptomless and patients are unaware that their heart rate is irregular.
“Working alongside the medical community, not only can we inform people of certain health conditions, we also hope to advance discoveries in heart science,” said Apple COO Jeff Williams.
The heart rate is calculated by using LEDs and light-sensitive photodiodes to determine how much blood is being pumped through the wrist, and uses a host of sensors to isolate the heart rhythm from external noise.
Participants in Apple’s study will receive notifications on their Apple Watch and iPhone if any irregularities are detected, providing them with a free consultation with a study doctor and an electrocardiogram (ECG) patch for further monitoring. The study is open to any US adult over the age of 22 who owns an Apple Watch Series 1 or later.