One of the major selling points of the latest generation of Apple Watch wearable is the ability of the device to detect irregular heartbeats. Fitbit wants it's wearables to be able to detect irregular heartbeats as well and has launched a virtual study to investigate if Fitbit devices can detect an irregular heart rhythm known as atrial fibrillation. The irregular heart rate detection feature has been in development since last October.
The study is open individuals who are 22 years old and over in the United States and own Fitbit devices including the Ionic and Versa. Fitbit hopes to enroll hundreds of thousands of people for the study. Detecting atrial fibrillation is a big deal and a big selling point, as it is the most common form of heart rhythm irregularity.
Atrial fibrillation increases the risk of stroke and is most common among people 65 years old or older. The study launched Wednesday and is called the Fitbit Heart Study. Fitbit's devices can gather heart rate information using technology that measures blood flow rate in the user's wrist. Fitbit believes those measurements can be used to identify an irregular heart rhythm in combination with a specialized algorithm.
Those who participate in the study and are notified of an irregular heart rhythm will get a free virtual appointment with a doctor to learn more about the condition. Users may also be mailed an electrocardiogram patch to confirm they have atrial fibrillation. Being able to detect atrial fibrillation via a wearable is a big deal as the condition is difficult to detect because episodes come and go making traditional diagnosis difficult. Google acquired Fitbit for $2,1 billion last year.
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