The Apple Watch may be a useful tool for detecting potentially fatal medical conditions such as hypertension (high blood pressure) and sleep apnea (a sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing while a person is asleep), claims a new study.
Carried out by the health startup Cardiogram and the University of California San Francisco, the study illustrates that the Apple Watch can detect hypertension with 82 percent, and hypertension with an impressive 90 percent.
It follows a similar previous study by Cardiogram and UCSF, which demonstrated that the Apple Watch can detect abnormal heart rhythms with a 97 percent accuracy.
The new study involved 6,115 participants, who were recruited through the Cardiogram app to test using their Apple Watch. The researchers then used a deep learning artificial neural network — one of the tools which is at the centre of recent big advances in artificial intelligence — to carry out diagnosis based on users’ heart rate and step count data. It required no additional hardware, other than what the Apple Watch already features.
While the work would need to go through plenty more stages before it was able to be rolled out as an FDA-approved medical diagnostic tool, the idea of being able to use a wearable device like the Apple Watch is certainly promising. The ability to have your Watch alert you if it detects a potentially fatal problem could help the device provide a function that can prove difficult for physicians to diagnose under some conditions.
Apple’s mobile health drive
From its number of hires in the biotech field, it is clear that Apple views mobile health as a promising market for the Apple Watch to enter. Although that won’t happen overnight, recently it was reported that Apple will be part of a pilot program organized by the Food and Drug Administration, aimed at making rapidly advancing the development of digital health applications.
At present, the Apple Watch is the world’s top-selling smartwatch, and may be poised to overtake the iPod’s biggest ever quarter sales at some point in 2018.
Still, if it could make legitimate medical claims about saving people’s lives, that would certainly be another valuable selling point Apple could use to its advantage.
Source: Abstracts Online