It seems we’ve only touched the surface on ways the Apple Watch can save lives. While the obvious, advertised features like Crash Detection, Fall Detection and atrial fibrillation tracking are well-publicized, medical researchers are finding new benefits. A recent Mayo Clinic study has found the ECG features of Apple Watch helpful in another way. It can help spot heart abnormalities that often lead to congestive heart failure.
Apple Watch Can Save Lives by Early Warning of Congestive Heart Failure
The Mayo Clinic says various types of cardiac dysfunction can remain undiagnosed for years, because they don’t lead to any symptoms. One, left ventricular dysfunction, can lie undetected for years before eventually leading to congestive heart failure.
According to a study the researchers recently conducted, the ECG features of Apple Watch can help detect left ventricular dysfunction. This is a problem with the left ventricle of the heart, primarily responsible for pumping oxygen to the vital organs throughout the body.
Heart failure, according to medical professionals, is a growing global pandemic that already affects 26 million people worldwide. It is fatal more often than not, and leads to poor quality of life as the condition advances.
Mayo Clinic Studies ECG Results to Help Identify Left Ventricular Dysfunction
In its study, the Mayo Clinic enrolled 2,454 patients from 46 U.S. states and 11 countries, digitally using Apple’s Research app. These patients, between August 2021 and February 2022, sent the researchers 125,610 ECG reports.
From that data, the researchers were able to develop a proprietary AI algorithm to scrub and process the results. It allowed the team to detect patients with unnoticed cardiac performance that indicated left ventricular dysfunction.
The Mayo Clinic published its findings Nov. 14 in Nature Medicine. While they cannot share the code behind the AI algorithms, the code is patent pending, licensed and is under FDA review.
In time, the capability behind those AI algorithms could roll out to cardiac health professionals worldwide. In the meantime, it does go to show that even consumer-grade devices like Apple Watch can hold tremendous potential for diagnosing latent medical conditions. It also reinforces the potential for smartwatches to help other researchers conduct remote digital health studies.