Apple Watch is able to detect heart arrhythmias other than AFib – study

According to new research published this week in American Heart Association Journal, Apple Watch can detect heart arrhythmias other than Atrial Fibrillation (AFib).

Apple Watch Series 1 or later with watchOS 5.1.2 sends a notification if an irregular heart rhythm such as AFib, is identified.
Apple Watch Series 1 or later with watchOS 5.1.2 or later sends a notification if an irregular heart rhythm such as AFib, is identified.

AFib is a type of irregular heart rhythm. AFib occurs when the heart beats in an irregular pattern. It’s a common form of irregular heart rhythm where the upper chambers of the heart beat out of sync with the lower chambers.

According to the CDC, approximately 2% of people younger than 65 years old and 9% of people 65 and older have AFib. Irregularities in heart rhythm become more common as people get older. Some individuals with AFib don’t experience any symptoms. Others experience symptoms that could include rapid heartbeat, palpitations, fatigue, or shortness of breath.

AFib can be temporary or persistent, and people with AFib often live healthy, active lives. AFib episodes can be prevented through regular physical activity, eating a heart-healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and treating other medical conditions that could worsen AFib. If left untreated, AFib can lead to heart failure or blood clots that may lead to stroke. AFib can be managed with a doctor’s care and medication, and early diagnosis and treatment can prevent such complications.

My Healthy Apple:


The Apple Watch irregular pulse detection algorithm was found to have a positive predictive value of 0.84 for the identification of atrial fibrillation (AFib).

Among 419,297 participants enrolled in the Apple Heart Study, 450 participant ECG patches were analyzed, with no AF on 297 ECG patches (66%). Non-AF arrhythmias (excluding supraventricular tachycardias <30 beats and pauses <3 seconds) were detected in 119 participants (40.1%) with ECG patches without AFib. 76 participants (30.5%) reported subsequent AF diagnoses.

In participants with an irregular pulse notification on the Apple Watch and no AF observed on ECG patch, atrial and ventricular arrhythmias, mostly PACs and PVCs, were detected in 40% of participants.

MacDailyNews Take: Yet another reason to wear an Apple Watch!

How to enable Apple Watch irregular rhythm notifications:

  1. Make sure that the software on your iPhone and Apple Watch is up to date.
  2. On your iPhone, open the Health app.
  3. Tap the Browse tab, then go to Heart > Irregular Rhythm Notifications.
  4. Once enabled, you can turn irregular rhythm notifications on or off in the Apple Watch app on your iPhone: Open the Apple Watch app, tap the My Watch tab, then go to Heart > Irregular Rhythm.

If you receive a notification, the irregular rhythm notification feature on your Apple Watch identified an irregular rhythm suggestive of AFib and confirmed it with multiple readings.

If you have not been diagnosed with AFib by a physician, you should talk to your doctor.

More info here.

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