Apple and Johnson & Johnson team up on heart study

February 26, 2020, 3:10 PM UTC

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Happy Wednesday, readers.

Kicking off in late 2017, the Apple Heart Study—a collaboration between the tech giant and Stanford Medicine meant to examine whether or not the Apple Watch could help assess heart health—attracted more than 400,000 participants. And the company isn’t pulling back from its health care push anytime soon.

Apple has partnered with Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen (the firm’s pharmaceutical arm) to test whether or not wearables such as the Apple Watch can detect atrial fibrillation (AFib), a heart condition which afflicts between 2.7 million and 6.1 million Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

AFib is, simply put, a form of irregular heart rhythm. It can be a major risk factor for cardiovascular catastrophe such as strokes and is cited as the underlying cause of death in tens of thousands of people every year. And the scary part is that it can often go completely undetected.

The J&J-Apple partnership is being dubbed the Heartline study, as my colleague Don Reisinger reports. It’s the latest example of a burgeoning trend in digital health to collect “real world” data, i.e. health data that doesn’t require a special clinical environment.

This specific project is aimed at elderly Americans on Medicare who are at higher risk for both AFib and heart problems generally. It will provide a combination of heart health tips through an app and collect the heart rhythms of one group of participants.

Over the course of three years, Johnson & Johnson researchers will assess whether or not this kind of continuous biometric data can help predict an oncoming cardiac event.

Expect even more of these health care efforts from Apple, if CEO Tim Cook’s own words are any indication.

Read on for the day’s news.

Sy Mukherjee


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