Wearables Can Detect Hypertension & Sleep Apnea, Suggests New Study

The Apple watch used in the experiments was able to detect abnormal heart rhythm with an accuracy of 97 percent.

The latest model of Apple Watch has a lot of features packed in a small tablespoon-sized device. "So there is this major undiagnosed problem". This puts them at high risk of stroke and heart disease, which are the leading causes of death in the US.

Sleep apnea affects an estimated 22 million adults in the USA, with another 80 percent of cases of moderate and severe obstructive sleep apnea undiagnosed, according to the American Sleep Apnea Association.

A health start-up company Cardiogram and the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) suggests on their new study that smartwatches [like the Apple Watch, Fitbit, Nokia Steel HR and many other wearables] that has heart rate sensor and accelerometer can accurately detect serious medical conditions such as hypertension and sleep apnea. The study presented Monday shows that with one week of data on a wearer, the algorithms can predict hypertension with roughly 80 percent accuracy, and sleep apnea with about 90 percent accuracy. Hypertension, meanwhile, is high blood pressure; for extended periods, it can lead to serious health issues.

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According to Brandon Ballinger, Cardiogram co-founder, DeepHeart was trained on data gathered from 70 percent of total participants and then tested again on the remaining 30 percent data that were not used in the previous training.

Breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure are all connected to our autonomic nervous system, which regulates the unconscious bodily functions that keep us alive. The PhysioNet 2000 challenge showed that algorithms based on beat-to-beat heart rate variability could correctly classify 35 recordings of sleep apnea.

Furthermore, the watch is also able to guide people to a suitable final diagnosis. Leslie Saxon, a cardiologist and executive director of the Center for Body Computing at the University of Southern California, says the idea of inferring conditions indirectly from heart rate and step counts needs more testing.

The value of the said study hasn't been proven yet for medicine. Cardiogram says it has more research underway, and expects accuracy to improve. The Cardiogram study relies on the DeepHeart platform. "Patients would much rather self-manage than deal with you, the physician", says Saxon.

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