J&J, Apple to launch study on Apple Watch's atrial fibrillation early detection, diagnosis capabilities

Johnson & Johnson will test the Apple Watch's ability to perform early detection and diagnosis of atrial fibrillation, a type of irregular heartbeat that can act as a sign of stroke.

The randomized, controlled study will comprise 180,000 participants who are at least 65 years old, STAT News reports. J&J and Apple will track patients' results through insurance claims databases, which is a newer way to conduct controlled research, according to C. Michael Gibson, MD, study co-chair and president and CEO of Boston-based Baim Institute for Clinical Research, STAT reports.

"It's certainly a vast and gross departure from the bricks and mortar model," Dr. Gibson told STAT. "This is one of the most exciting things, the idea that you're going to find participants through the media, the news, potentially through insurers and even health care providers."

The Heartline study, which will launch in late 2019, will analyze the results of combining J&J's new heart health app with Apple Watch's irregular rhythm notifications and electrocardiogram app. Results of the study will be used to determine whether the pharmaceutical company and Apple's technologies can accelerate the diagnosis of AFib and improve outcomes that could help prevent stroke.

AFib accounts for almost one-third of all strokes and puts individuals who have the heart condition at a 5-times greater risk to experiencing a stroke, according to J&J.

Stanford (Calif.) University School of Medicine recently released its preliminary results of its Apple Heart Study, which found that more than one-third of participants whose Apple Watch detected an irregular heart beat were found to have AFib.

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