9To5Mac reports on an imminent clinical partnership—Apple is partnering with pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson to study whether the Apple Watch can be used to diagnose increased risk of a stroke. Common symptoms of a stroke include partial paralysis, partial loss of vision and difficulties speaking or understanding speech.
Some symptoms may be temporary, while others may prove permanent. Stroke can also prove fatal, and in 2015 was the second most frequent cause of death after heart disease. The study’s sponsors seek to understand whether AFib detection, when combined with a new app, could accelerate a quality diagnosis.
Paul Stoffels, Johnson & Johnson’s executive vice president and chief scientific officer, said “the goal is to identify early on AFib and prevent stroke by combining the physical know-how from Apple and what we have from the medical and scientific know-how.”
The firm believes that AFib is significantly more common than has so far been suspected, and that early detection can be key to stroke prevention.
“It is fair to say that the Watch has a very very good detection rate,” adds cardiologist Paul Burton, Johnson & Johnson’s vice president of medical affairs for internal medicine. However, he also says there are false positives.
If an AFib reading shows up, patients will be directed to seek a formal diagnosis from their medical provider.
Burton believes “the study has the potential to show that there is a lot more atrial fibrillation out there in the real world in older people than we ever imagined, and if you use a tool like an Apple Watch to detect and funnel people to care, you can really drive down stroke risk in those patients.”
The study will use anonymised aggregated data from those consenting to participate.