Smartwatches can track everything from steps taken to sleep habits, and now they may even be able to detect a dangerous heart condition.

A recent study from the Cleveland Clinic suggests that smartwatches (specifically the Apple Watch 4) were able to identify instances of atrial fibrillation (AFib), or an irregular heartbeat/arrhythmia. The research was conducted on 50 postoperative cardiac surgery patients. The smartwatch was able to detect the irregular heartbeat 98% of the time in those wearing the device equipped with a downloadable PDF specifically designed to track this condition.

According to the American Heart Association, at least 2.7 million Americans are living with AFib. AFib can cause a constant fluttering sensation in the chest, shortness of breath, fatigue and lead to more severe symptoms such as blood clots, stroke, or potentially even heart failure if not properly treated.

The fast-growing trend in wearable technologies to monitor our health is certainly the future. CTVS board-certified cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Brannon Hyde cautions against relying on smart devices alone for a definitive diagnosis, but notes “there is real promise in using wearable devices to detect irregular cardiac function.”

“The Apple Watch specifically is a useful tool to detect AFib, but it is not a substitute for data-driven monitoring devices such as Zio patch. A full assessment by your physician, perhaps with Apple Watch data, along with an EKG or Zio patch information, still remains the most effective way to diagnose AFib burden.”

Fortunately, there are innovative surgical treatment options for AFib. For questions about these treatments or to schedule an appointment with any of our vascular, thoracic, or cardiac specialists, please visit or call us at (512) 459-8753.

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