Okay, this is cool—wearable technology is apparently here to save our lives


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Photo: Getty Images / James Porcini

Sure, the Game of Thrones x Adidas Ultraboost collaboration is great—but apparently the real match we didn’t know we needed is the one between Stanford and Apple. I mean, the former may have given me metaphorical life, but the latter has the potential to give you literal life. Stanford University School of Medicine just released the findings of its Apple Heart Study. The study, conducted over eight months, included over 400,000 participants to determine whether the Apple Watch’s irregular heart rhythm function could safely detect atrial fibrillation (aka irregular heartbeat).

According to the Stanford University School of Medicine, atrial fibrillation is a leading cause of stroke and hospitalization in the United States. Many people don’t even know they have it since they don’t notice the symptoms. To see if the Apple Watch has potential life-saving abilities, researchers recruited over 400,000 people to take part in the study, using Series 1, 2, or 3 Apple Watches in conjunction with an iPhone app. The watch intermittently checked for an irregular heart beat, and participants got an alert if one was detected. Participants were asked to have a telemedicine consultation with a doctor involved in the study, and sent electrocardiogram (ECG) patches. (ECG technology is available with the latest Apple Watch model, which launched after the Apple Heart Study began.)

Prepare to turn into an IRL exploding-head emoji, because the study found that people who got the alert had a 71 percent chance of actually having the condition. That’s a C-minus in a school setting, but actually super accurate for a study like this. The researchers also made a point to note that, of the 400,000 participants, only .05 percent got a notification. Over-notification was a concern at the onset on the study. (As someone who frequently diagnoses herself on the internet all the time, I say over-notify me, though).

“The performance and accuracy we observed in this study provides important information as we seek to understand the potential impact of wearable technology on the health system,” says Marco Perez, MD, associate professor of cardiovascular medicine and one of the researchers involved in the Apple Heart Study. Lloyd Minor, MD, the dean of the Stanford School of Medicine, adds: “Atrial fibrillation is just the beginning, as this study opens the door to further research into wearable technologies and how they might be used to prevent disease before it strikes.”

To be honest, this sounds like a phrase a doctor in a superhero movie would say before unveiling something really cool and I am here for it.

Hey, it’s the future and technology can now help you sleep, instead of just being the cause of your restless nights.

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