In a recent study published in the European Heart Journal, researchers found that physical activity that conforms to medical and health association guidelines is linked to a lower risk of atrial fibrillation (Afib) and stroke.
They analyzed nearly 100,000 individuals equipped with wrist-worn accelerometers to measure their movement.
The findings suggest that data from wearables, including a new generation of devices with sensors that allow for Afib detection, could help promote moderate physical activity as an effective way to improve health outcomes.
The study is from Massachusetts General Hospital. One author is Steven Lubitz, MD, MPH.
In the study, wearable accelerometers provide an objective and reproducible measure of physical activity.
Nearly 100,000 members of the UK Biobank agreed to wear accelerometers—electromagnetic devices that measure body movement and orientation to infer certain activities—for seven days.
The researchers then compared that data with later diagnoses of atrial fibrillation and stroke among participants, most between 55 and 70 years of age, reported to the Biobank from 2013 to 2020.
The findings supported recommendations from the European Society of Cardiology, the American Heart Association, and the World Health Organization for 150 minutes or greater of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week.
Given the explosive growth of ‘smart’ devices with increasingly sophisticated detection capabilities, the study stressed the exciting opportunities that now exist to link disease prevention programs to atrial fibrillation diagnostics.
Those devices include wearables and smartphones able to measure heart rate and thus detect possible arrhythmias and other irregularities through their photoplethysmography (a technique that detects changes in blood flow through sensors on the skin) and electrocardiographic (ECG) capabilities.
The team is hopeful that these emerging technologies could be applied to not just Afib and stroke but also to other diseases, including high blood pressure, and to metabolic diseases like diabetes, which might be affected by guideline-adherent physical activity.
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