The popularity of wearable technology, such as smartwatches, has soared globally, with many consumers using these devices to monitor their health.
However, a growing concern is the accuracy of atrial fibrillation (Afib) detection by these consumer devices. Afib, an irregular heartbeat condition, significantly raises the risk of heart attack and stroke.
According to Hamid Ghanbari, M.D., M.P.H., from the University of Michigan Health Frankel Cardiovascular Center, there has been an influx of healthy individuals worried about having Afib due to false positives reported by their wearables, creating a challenge in clinical settings.
Innovative Solution: The Verily Study Watch
To tackle this issue, Ghanbari and his team have developed a prescription wristwatch designed for continuous heart rhythm monitoring and accurate Afib detection.
Named the Verily Study Watch, this clinical-grade device features a unique algorithm and has shown high accuracy in identifying Afib in participants, as reported in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
How It Works: Technology Behind the Watch
The Verily Study Watch operates similarly to consumer wearables, using photoplethysmography, a technique that sends light pulses through the skin to detect heart rhythm changes.
If atrial fibrillation is suspected, the device prompts the user to take a single-lead ECG for confirmation. The results are then reviewed by a technician and reported to the patient’s physician.
During a study from September 2020 to May 2021 involving over 100 participants, the Verily Study Watch consistently identified atrial fibrillation.
Its accuracy was on par with other devices using similar technology, even during different levels of physical activity. Notably, the watch’s performance slightly decreased for individuals with darker skin tones, but it still effectively detected Afib.
Consumer Devices vs. Clinical Tools
While consumer devices like the Apple Watch and Fitbit are FDA-cleared for pre-diagnostic purposes, they are not meant for clinical decision-making.
The Verily Study Watch, however, bridges this gap. It offers a long-term, non-invasive monitoring solution for Afib, potentially reducing the burden on clinicians caused by the high volume of notifications from consumer wearables.
FDA Clearance and Future Implications
Verily Life Sciences, the creator of the watch, has received 510(k) clearance from the FDA, confirming the device’s effectiveness and compliance with regulatory standards.
Ghanbari emphasizes the need for an affordable, clinical-grade, wrist-worn wearable that clinicians can prescribe for personalized, long-term management of Afib.
In conclusion, the Verily Study Watch represents a significant advancement in wearable technology, providing a practical and clinically viable solution for detecting and managing atrial fibrillation.
Its development could lead to more accurate and efficient patient care in the realm of cardiac health.
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The research findings can be found in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
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