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Image credit: Chris Velazco

Apple details new heart-tracking features for Watch

Plus, the Apple Heart Study goes live in the US this year.
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Chris Velazco

Apple is expanding the health-monitoring features of its Watch line with a focus on the heart. The Apple Watch is getting an improved heart-rate monitoring system that allows users to raise their wrists to see their heart rates and fresh metrics, among a raft of other new features. The Watch will also notify wearers if their heart rate jumps up when they're not actually exercising, signaling a potential problem.

Apple wants the Watch to be able to detect common heart conditions such as atrial fibrilation, which affects tens of millions of people and often goes undiagnosed. To this end, Apple is partnering with clinicians at Stanford for a study to determine whether the Watch can accurately detect abnormal heart rhythms, or arrhythmias, in wearers.

The study uses data from the Apple Watch to analyze arrhythmias, and the company has been working closely with the FDA to organize this entire endeavor. The Apple Heart Study and new features will go live in the US App Store later this year.

Apple sees a clear role for the Watch in the health-monitoring market, launching services like HealthKit and ResearchKit that are designed to provide biometric feedback to patients and doctors alike. A recent study from Cardiogram and the UCSF Health lab demonstrated the Apple Watch's ability to reliably detect paroxysmal atrial fibrillation when the system is paired with neural network algorithms. All of this work provides a solid foundation for the nationwide Apple Heart Study.

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