85% of Apple Watch users that get AFib alert don't have the condition, Mayo Clinic study finds

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Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic researchers found that only about 15 percent of people who received an atrial fibrillation alert from their Apple Watch end up actually being diagnosed with the condition.

For the study, published Sept. 25 in Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, researchers conducted an analysis of 264 patients evaluated for abnormal pulse detected using Apple Watch over a four-month period.

Of the study participants, clinical documentation for 15.5 percent noted an abnormal pulse alert, while preexisting AFib was noted in 22 percent. The patients received testing including echocardiography, Holter monitor and chest X-rays to check their cardiovascular health.

After performing the diagnostic tests, only 11.4 percent of patients were clinically diagnosed with a cardiovascular condition. Of the 41 patients who received an explicit alert from Apple Watch detecting an irregular pulse, only six individuals (15 percent) were clinically diagnosed.

Researchers concluded that the FDA and Apple should consider the unintended consequences of direct-to-consumer AFib screening, including false positive screening results.

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