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Digital & Innovation

J&J and Apple launch new mHealth study to reduce the risk of stroke

Health Industry Hub | March 2, 2020 |

Digital & Innovation: Apple is partnering with Johnson & Johnson (J&J) on a new mHealth study to determine whether the Apple Watch and an accompanying app can help reduce the risk of stroke.

The study is designed to explore if the Heartline Study app on iPhone and heart health features on Apple Watch can improve health outcomes, including reducing the risk of stroke, with earlier detection of atrial fibrillation (AFib). 

AFib is a type of irregular heart rhythm that occurs when the heart’s upper and lower chambers do not beat in sync. As a result, blood clots can develop in the heart and travel to the brain, making AFib one of the most common causes of stroke. There are many unknowns around AFib, and because there are often no symptoms, many people who have it remain undiagnosed.

If doctors are able to identify and treat AFib earlier, they may be able to reduce the risk of these fatal and disabling strokes, says cardiologist C. Michael Gibson, M.D., CEO of the Baim Institute for Clinical Research and founder of the Perfuse Study Group at Harvard Medical School. That’s why Gibson—who’s studied cardiovascular health for 38 years—is consulting with Johnson & Johnson and co-leading the multiyear virtual Heartline Study.

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This study follows on the heels of the Apple Heart Study, to date the largest analysis of mHealth data from a wearable device. Launched in 2017 by the Stanford University School of Medicine, Apple and American Well, the study attracted almost 420,000 participants and laid the groundwork for the viability of ECG sensors for detecting AFib.

Participants in the study will use an Apple Watch and Heartline Study app, which alerts the user when the smartwatch detects an irregular heart rhythm and advises him or her to seek advice from a healthcare provider. The app, which also provides information and resources to the user, can be triggered to personalize that information if a care provider confirms an AFib diagnosis or if the user isn’t engaged with the program.

“The decision to take action is the responsibility of the participant, but the Heartline Study app will provide additional prompting and educational materials to help people make informed decisions,” Gibson said.

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