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Is that a Tracker or a Screener? Yes.

San Francisco, CACardiogram, an apple watch app that monitors heart rate, has been shown to be able to predict atrial fibrillation (afib) with 97 percent accuracy. This finding was shared at the Heart Rhythm Society last week, and is part of a the larger Health eHeart Study that was conducted by Cardiogram and the University of California, San Francisco.

The study included over 6,000 participants, and while many of them had normal heart rhythms, about 200 had already been diagnosed with afib. Researchers from UCSF and engineers from Cardiogram used the data that they gathered from this pool of participants and used it to develop an algorithm that is designed to predict the heart condition.

Why it matters – Afib is sometimes difficult to diagnose. There may be little to no symptoms, and even when there are, the irregularities of the heart may not be happening all the time. Traditional detection methods are either limited to a specific timeframes (like sensors that are worn for a couple of weeks) or can be invasive. The beauty of a tool like Cardiogram is that it is passively collecting data in the background at all times, and it’s integrated within a device that is organically a part of daily life.

And while it may be some time before an algorithm can truly deliver a proper diagnosis, it can certainly be used as a very effective, actionable screener. To this end, the Cardiogram team is exploring the links between other diseases and heart rate, to see where else they might be able to apply their data and device combo as an advanced detection tool.