With Cardiogram's AI, Apple Watch can detect sleep apnea, hypertension, study shows


The last time Cardiogram used DeepHeart on an Apple Watch was to spot irregularities in heart rate rhythms. It's only the latest example in a string of recent studies in which researchers have tapped into the biosensors of wearables to turn them into devices that can detect and monitor serious health conditions. Hypertension - also known as high blood pressure - was detected by the Apple wearable with an accuracy of 82 percent.

It was able to detect sleep apnea in 1,016 of the participants and hypertension in 2,230 of the testers.

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. Meanwhile according to the American Sleep Apnea Association 80% of United States adults are considered to have moderate and severe cases of undiagnosed sleep apnea. Current methods for diagnosing sleep apnea are much more involved than simply wearing an Apple Watch while you sleep, requiring hoards of sensors and leads to be attached to the body during sleep.

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Similarly according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) more than 75 million adults in the United States suffer from high blood pressure (hypertension). This puts them at high risk of stroke and heart disease, which are the leading causes of death in the US.

Part of the goal of the work is to determine whether technology like the Apple Watch can even be useful for health at all. Based on neural network DeepHeart, the company's Cardiogram, managed to detect the carriers of "smart" hours health problems.

The crucial difference an Apple Watch or other heart rate-monitoring wearable has over visiting a doctor is its ability to constantly monitor and record data.

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It becomes hard to note down the spike in blood pressure, and determine if the patient is suffering from sleep apnea.

"The idea here is that by screening continuously you would identify people with hypertension who might not know they have it", Hsieh told.

In the new study, presented yesterday at the American Heart Association's annual Scientific Sessions, over 6000 users of the Cardiogram app were recruited to participate in UCSF's Health eHeart Study.

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