Apple Watch users with an irregular heartbeat are not visiting doctors more often, but they are more likely to be treated with a heart procedure, a study has found (via The Verge).
The study examined 125 people with atrial fibrillation and a heart-monitoring wearable, such as the Apple Watch, who visited the University of Utah Health during a 90-day period, and compared them to a group of 500 people with the same condition and similar characteristics, but no wearable.
The results of the study showed that users with heart-monitoring wearables are not more likely to visit a doctor about a health condition with their heart. In spite of this, users with a wearable and a heart condition such as atrial fibrillation are more likely to undergo medical procedures.
Specifically, this group of wearable users was more likely to undergo an ablation, which is a medical procedure that seeks to restore a normal heartbeat.
It is not clear if the people in the study who wore wearables and had ablations had worse symptoms than the control group and so needed the treatment as a result, or if the wearables encouraged them to see a doctor and have the procedure sooner.
It may simply be the case that people with heart conditions who decide to wear an Apple Watch do so due to general concerns about monitoring their health. It is also possible that wearable users could see their device detecting an abnormal heartbeat more often and therefore they worry that their atrial fibrillation is getting worse, even when it is not.
The Apple Watch and similar health-monitoring wearables are the focus of a growing number of studies in the medical field, where they have been used to investigate COVID-19, frailty, cognitive health, heart failure, asthma, and more.