Northwestern awarded $37M to study wearables for Afib treatment

Evanston, Ill.-based Northwestern University and Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins University were awarded the first-ever national grant to study wearables in atrial fibrillation treatment, Northwestern reported Aug. 29.

Currently, the standard treatment for Afib is for patients to take blood thinners continuously. The $37 million grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute will be used to study a "pill-in-pocket" approach to treating Afib episodes. Participants will use an Apple Watch and app to be notified when an Afib event is occurring. Once notified, they'll take blood thinners only until the episode is over and they have not had another episode.

"We think advances in technology will allow us to personalize this care," principal investigator Rod Passman, MD, director of the Center for Arrhythmia Research and a professor of medicine in the division of cardiology at Northwestern's Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, said in the release. "Why should patients expose themselves to the risk and cost of these drugs when they may not be benefiting?"

The study includes 5,400 patients and will last seven years.

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