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Apple Watch can detect sleep apnea and high blood pressure

The Apple Watch can accurately detect sleep apnea and high blood pressure, a study found.

An app called Cardiogram implemented technology earlier this year to detect abnormal heart rhythm used to predict and prevent heart disease by tracking heart rate.

Now new research has found the technology can detect other serious conditions such as sleep apnea with 90 percent accuracy and hypertension with 82 percent accuracy.

Being able to detect these conditions through wearing a simple device that continuously screens the body’s heart rate will cut the time between doctors visits, tests and lead to a quicker diagnosis.

Cardiogram is an app that detects heart rate and alerts the patient of abnormalities which is meant to predict and prevent heart disease, sleep apnea and high blood pressure 

The study was conducted using the Cardiogram app with more than 6,000 participants wearing the Apple Watch.

The app tracked heart rate and step count in the subjects between one week and a year. 

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

Cardiogram and University of California San Francisco conducted the study using a deep learning algorithm called DeepHeart to detect the conditions with accuracy.

‘The idea here is that by screening continuously you would identify people with hypertension who might not know they have it,’ said Cardiogram’s co-founder and study lead Johnson Hsieh. 

He adds: ‘Then you’d guide them through the appropriate final diagnosis, which would be through a blood pressure cuff and then treatment.’ 

Right now most patients go to the doctor and wait to be tested for these conditions, adding a large time gap between symptoms and a diagnosis. In other cases, patients don’t even recognize symptoms until it becomes critical. 

By continuously tracking heart rate, the app can alert a patient of abnormalities leading to a swifter diagnosis and hopefully faster treatment and recovery. 

Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder largely associated with heavy snoring in which breathing repeatedly stops. 

It affects 22million adults in the US and if left untreated the oxygen deprivation from sleep apnea can result in a growing number of health problems, including high blood pressure, stroke, heart failure, diabetes and heart attacks.

Another 75 million American adults have high blood pressure or hypertension, putting them at high risk for heart disease and stroke which are the top causes of death in the US.

Hsieh believes this study shows promise for other wearable technology to incorporate a heart-rate sensors including FitBits.

Cardiogram and University of California San Francisco’s study on heart health is the third major study of deep learning in medicine, following Google Brain’s results on diabetic eye disease in December of 2016 and Stanford’s study on skin cancer this January.