Apple Watch successfully detects heart failure with a new app

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Researchers have developed a new app that successfully uses the Apple Watch to monitor for signs of left ventricular dysfunction. Silwell / Getty Images
  • A new study suggests that the Apple Watch app may be useful in detecting left ventricular dysfunction.
  • Left ventricular dysfunction is a condition in which the heart cannot pump blood properly.
  • The app used in the study performed similar to a conventional 12-lead EKG.
  • Experts say this could enable patients to detect and monitor heart failure without visiting the clinic.

A Mayo Clinic study presented May 1, 2022 at the Heart Rhythm 2022 conference in San Francisco, California, found that a new Apple Watch app that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze data from the watch may be useful in detecting left ventricular dysfunction. .

left ventricular dysfunction It is a type of heart failure in which one of the heart’s chambers, the left ventricle, becomes weak, making the heart unable to adequately pump blood throughout the body.

It may be caused by chronic or poorly controlled high blood pressure or by damage to the heart muscle due to coronary artery blockage.

People with heart failure may have symptoms such as:

  • Shortness of breath
  • fatigue
  • Swollen legs and abdomen
  • Coughing
  • overweight
  • nausea
  • Source
  • rapid heartbeat

They may also not have noticeable symptoms.

Mayo Clinic patients who had an Apple Watch and were willing to download the Mayo Clinic iOS app were invited to participate in the study.

The Apple Watch was used in the study because its Series 4, 5, 6, and 7 series watches have a sensor capable of detecting electrical impulses that indicate the heartbeat and its rhythm.

This data can be used to determine the presence of atrial fibrillation (arrhythmia).

In all, 2,454 people from 46 countries and 11 countries participated. The average age of the study participants was 53 years, 56% of whom were female.

The app sent all previously collected electrocardiograms (ECGs) to the clinic for review.

Electrocardiogram obtained within 1 month of clinical request The echocardiogram was analyzed by AI for an ejection fraction (measurement of ventricular output) less than or equal to 40 percent using a specially developed model for single-lead ECG.

Participation was very high, according to the study authors. During the study year, subjects submitted 125,610 EKGs and 92 percent of them used the app multiple times.

The app detected at least one sinus rhythm (a normal heart rhythm) in 421 patients within 30 days of Echocardiogram.

Sixteen people had an ejection fraction less than or equal to 40 percent, meaning their heart wasn’t pumping well.

Thirteen of these 16 were identified using an AI ECG clock.

According to Dr. Annabelle Santos Folgman, M.D., associate professor of medicine and senior therapist at Rush University School of Medicine and Rush University Medical Center, researchers have found that the Apple Watch is as good as a 12-point ECG your doctor might do in an office. headquarters. center.

“For detecting atrial fibrillation, it’s very good, but it’s not very good for detecting other problems like heart attacks or thickening of the heart muscle,” she said.

Wesley Melkes, MD, a cardiologist and associate professor of internal medicine at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, explained that, “The standard diagnostic EKG performed in a hospital or clinic is the 12-line EKG, which is much more detailed in terms of what are the conditions that can be detected.”

Folgman said she’s been using the Apple Watch as part of her patient care for many years now.

“We can document the patient’s rhythm when they have symptoms of palpitations. I can reassure them that it is not a worrisome problem when we do not see any arrhythmias,” she explained.

When problems arise, she said she can then move on to the next stage to assess her risks and what to do about her symptoms.

Milks says it often uses Apple Watch data, too.

“For example, I might ask them to record their ECG tracking when they develop symptoms or to report heart rate values ​​over time,” Melkes said.

He notes that in addition to performing an individual ECG, the Apple Watch is able to monitor heart rate, oxygen saturation, step count, standing frequency, calories expended, and sleep patterns, all of which can be useful information in patient care.

According to the study’s lead author Dr. Paul Friedman, we may now be able to add weak heart detection to the list, saying it’s “absolutely great that AI can turn the ECG signal of a consumer’s watch into a detector for this condition.”

He believes that in the future people may be able to check and monitor heart failure in the comfort of their own home simply by using the Apple Watch and the app.

“This provides the opportunity for greater access to care, and a significant reduction in the cost of some diagnostic tests and research studies…”

But he stressed that this research is still in its early stages and will need to be tested and validated before it becomes available to patients.

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