Researchers investigate fresh ground in heart health with Apple Watch.

February 23, 2023

Researchers investigate fresh ground in heart health with Apple Watch.



Researchers investigate fresh ground in heart health with Apple Watch.
An typical, healthy adult’s heart beats more than 100,000 times in a single day. A picture that is mainly unseen starts to take shape beat by beat and day by day. The invisible may become apparent with the aid of Apple Watch. Apple offers users an ever-evolving perspective of their health with useful information through heart health features like high and low heart notifications, Cardio Fitness, irregular rhythm notifications, the ECG app, and AFib History.

The same cutting-edge technology that gives users insights to help them comprehend their health also has the potential to let the research and medical communities make new discoveries. Researchers, clinicians, and developers have discovered cutting-edge new methods to study, monitor, and treat a wide variety of conditions since Apple launched ResearchKit and CareKit in 2015.

Apple started the Investigator Assistance Program to encourage research that will ultimately lead to widespread health improvements. Through this programme, Apple offers researchers Apple Watch devices, allowing them to make significant advancements in health research, including the understanding of the heart from a scientific perspective.

Apple is highlighting the cutting-edge work of medical professionals all over the globe who are using Apple Watch to conduct groundbreaking research on the heart.

Senior paediatric oncologists Dr. Claudia Toro and Associate Professor Rachel Conyers work at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia. They primarily treat children with cancer in tertiary paediatric oncology clinics and study the toxicities associated with paediatric cancer treatments. Together, they are examining the potential effects of treatment on heart rhythm and attempting to come up with creative methods to intercede. Their patients serve as both a source of inspiration and sorrow for their work.

Cancer treatment toxicity can result in possibly fatal cardiac rhythm disturbances, such as prolonged QT syndrome.
An irregular cardiac rhythm caused by prolonged QT lengthens the time it takes for blood to flow through the heart.

Children getting cancer treatment are regularly screened with a 12-lead electrocardiogram at least once a week due to their propensity for long QT. Outpatients still require access to surveillance, though.

Dr. Conyers stated, “I read about the Apple Heart Study and felt this could be important for paediatrics. “We used to believe that cardiac toxicity developed ten years after therapy. There is currently a large gap in our knowledge of the toxicities because we now know that novel cancer therapies (such as specific inhibitors or immune therapy) can cause arrhythmias within 48 hours of medication.

Dr. Conyers and her group at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute will start by studying the sensitivity of the Apple Watch ECG app in 40 paediatric and teen patients in the coming months.

1 The team will then search for ways to enable patients to record their ECGs whenever they are able, wherever they are. The team wants to use these insights to comprehend cardiac toxicity more fully and to spot prospective areas where intervention might be possible.

Every person in the Bay Area can recall the day the atmosphere turned orange. On September 9, 2020, it took place. Dr. So-Min Cheong, an associate lecturer in the Bush School’s Public Service & Administration Division, was in Palo Alto, California.

Dr. Cheong stated, “I still have pictures from that day on my iPhone.
In 2020 and 2021, California was plagued by a string of destructive wildfires. Dr. Cheong, who studies the social and health effects of natural disasters and climate change, saw a chance to investigate the effects of wildfire smoke on individual firefighters’ cardiac health.
Dr. Cheong claims that “general health advice or over-the-counter interventions weren’t good enough for me.” “Everyone is different. Every person is unique when it comes to their health, so I was interested in learning more.

Dr. Cheong discovered that the Apple Watch could assist in gathering the type of health data she required through her connections in the study community. She continues, “A Stanford colleague of mine had shared their experience using the Apple Watch, and it’s renowned for its heart rate accuracy. I’ve always wished to be able to perform more sensor-based, noninvasive analyses on people to obtain more accurate health measurements.

To better understand how wildfire smoke affects heart health, Dr. Cheong at Texas A&M University and Drs. Brian Kim and Marco Perez at Stanford Medicine will start providing Apple Watches to firemen the first week of next month. Up to 200 firefighters from Texas and California who work in the wildland fire season (spring and summer respectively) will participate in the research.

The research will use Apple Watch to track data on activity, sleep, blood oxygenation, heart rate and rhythm, and more. Additionally, firefighters will wear an air quality monitor and complete questionnaires about their sleep, activity, and symptoms brought on by wildfire smoke.

According to Dr. Cheong, “Firefighters are sure to profit from the study.” We are aware that wildfire smoke has a direct impact on their health, and a research like this will allow them to monitor their progress in real time.

She doesn’t want to generalise the study’s possible conclusions, though, especially since its main objective is to examine the kind of individualised and precise health data that Apple Watch can offer.
It is not necessary to prove or disprove a theory because studies like this one haven’t been conducted before, according to Dr. Cheong. “It’s more exploratory, and the results will enable us to assess the efficacy of a study of this kind to produce customised interventions. Additionally, I believe that a research of this kind could improve our comprehension of high-risk populations.

The estimated prevalence of atrial fibrillation (AFib) in the European Union is predicted to double by 2060, according to epidemiology specialists in the region. AFib is a common heart arrhythmia that, if untreated, can have severe consequences, including a higher chance of stroke or heart failure.

Dr. Sebastiaan Blok, head of eHealth at the Cardiology Centres of the Netherlands, and his colleagues are researching methods to identify AFib earlier at the Amsterdam University Medical Centers. As part of a bigger project called HartWacht, the first reimbursable eHealth idea, the researchers have created a randomised controlled study.

According to Dr. Nicole van Steijn, a member of the study team, “there are about 300,000 people who have been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation in the Netherlands.” However, an additional 100,000 individuals are thought to have it but are unaware of it, most likely because they haven’t noticed any symptoms.

They intend to include more than 300 patients who are over 65 and satisfy the AFib risk threshold in their research. The intervention group, which makes up half of the subjects, will wear Apple Watch for at least 12 hours every day.

In order to better comprehend how we might possibly integrate Apple Watch into the larger health system, Dr. Blok says, “We felt it would be a great device for us to integrate into our research.”

Participants are required to take an ECG as part of the study’s protocol once every three weeks or as soon as any signs appear. The researchers will get in touch with the participant and give them instructions on how to conduct an ECG and share the findings if they receive a notification of an irregular rhythm.

Within three weeks of the study’s completion, researchers were able to locate an AFib patient in the control group who had no symptoms.
This research is the first step in their quest to comprehend using Apple Watch. Given that some medications can affect heart rhythm, they intend to investigate how to spot potential chances to use the ECG app to monitor patients from home in the future. Given that heart failure is an expensive condition, they are also thinking about how Apple Watch might be used to watch patients at home and find predictive biomarkers for exacerbations.

Dr. Blok stated, “With new opportunities rooted in science and technology, we are continuing to grow and innovate.
Adult users may use the ECG app with no restrictions. Only experimental use is allowed for paediatric patients.

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