Apple Watch able to detect arrhythmias other than AFib ( new findings from Apple Heart Study)

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

The research indicates that the Apple Watch’s irregular pulse detection algorithm has a positive predictive value of 0.84 for the identification of atrial fibrillation (AFib).

Related Reading:

The Apple Heart Study investigated a smartwatch-based irregular pulse notification algorithm to identify AFib. 

For this secondary analysis, the researchers analyzed participants who received an ambulatory ECG patch after index irregular pulse notification. 

Study Results from new research 

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, primarily PACs and PVCs, the study detected symptoms in 40% of participants. 

If you are new to Apple Watch, you can set up notifications for high and low heart rates.

low heart rate notification on apple watch

You can turn on heart rate notifications when you first open the Heart Rate app on your Apple Watch or from your iPhone:

  1. On your iPhone, open the Apple Watch app.
  2. Select the My Watch tab, then tap Heart.
  3. Tap High Heart Rate, then choose a BPM. 
  4. Choose Low Heart Rate, then choose a BPM.

Key conclusions from this Stanford study suggest that defining optimal care for patients with detection of incidental arrhythmias other than AFib is important.

Apple Watch’s ability to detect arrhythmias is gaining attention as new research evaluates other uses cases.

One important note, at this time the irregular heartbeat notification is meant for people NOT currently diagnosed with AFib. That’s because the Apple Watch only occasionally looks at a user’s heartbeat to check for an irregular rhythm. Since the Apple Watch is not constantly looking for AFib, it does not detect all instances of AFib.

Source: American Heart Association Journal

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Sudz Niel Kar
I am a technologist with years of experience with Apple and wearOS products, have a BS in Computer Science and an MBA specializing in emerging tech, and owned the popular site AppleToolBox. In my day job, I advise Fortune 500 companies with their digital transformation strategies and also consult with numerous digital health startups in an advisory capacity. I'm VERY interested in exploring the digital health and fitness-tech evolution and keeping a close eye on patents, FDA approvals, strategic partnerships, and developments happening in the wearables and digital health sector. When I'm not writing or presenting, I run with my Apple Watch Ultra or Samsung Galaxy Watch and closely monitor my HRV and other recovery metrics.


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