Apple watch study is moot

  • The Apple Heart Study, conducted by Stanford University researchers and sponsored by Apple, evaluated the ability of the Apple Watch to detect atrial fibrillation, a common heart disorder also known as A-fib, in an astonishing 400,000 participants.
  • The study was not a randomized controlled trial, the gold standard of medical research.
  • It’s a purely observational study designed to see whether the Apple Watch’s heart pulse monitor can identify people who have a-fib.
  • A leading cardiologist told me “the study is really moot and doesn’t change my views on the Apple watch for patients”

According to Larry Husten over at STAT news “set your smartwatch alarm. You’re about to be barraged by tons of hype about the health benefits of the Apple Watch. Unfortunately, it won’t include essential information and data that can put these claims in proper perspective”. Unfortunately he is spot on.

The Apple watch study results are all over the Internet but the hype is not based in reality. I reached out to a leading cardiologist thought leader last night and he told me “the study is moot because it’s not, what I would call, a good medical study”. OK, it’s only one person but what he said is right on target.

It’s not only the Apple study but mHealth too

I keep reading statistics about mHealth, usually by organizations that have a direct stake in mHealth like Rock Health. They talk about the “wide use” of mHealth devices and apps but what they aren’t saying is that the American public is getting more unhealthy. Millennials are on track to be the most obese generation and diabetes is rising faster than doctors can track.

Until mHealth developers learn to conduct medical studies the way medical studies are meant and should be conducted the results are simply hyped to generate buzz and sell more products.

As Mr Husten said:

The medical community has no idea how to respond appropriately or efficiently to the large number of people who will be identified as having a-fib by the Apple Watch alone. Most of these people — young and tech-savvy — will almost certainly be at low risk for a stroke or other harmful consequence of a-fib. It is entirely possible that the vast majority would do fine until their heart problem was identified by traditional means.

Thank you for being a voice of reason.