Fitbit is about to launch its first ever large-scale virtual health study. The Fitbit Heart Study will monitor the heartbeats of hundreds of thousands of users, in a bid to detect atrial fibrillation (AFib), more commonly known as irregular heart rhythm. The company hopes that the data it collects will help it refine an algorithm that can better identify and even predict the condition among sufferers that are often completely unaware they have the disorder.
According to Fitbit, AFib affects nearly 33.5 million people around the world, and patients with AFib have a five times higher risk of stroke. But the condition can be difficult to detect as episodes are often sporadic and asymptomatic. Fitbit says it’s well-positioned to carry out research in this area, as its devices allow for continual heartbeat tracking over a number of days, and also when users are asleep, which is the optimal time to monitor a heartbeat.