Apple Watch Users More Likely to Have Medical Procedures on Their Heart, Study Finds

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).

apple watch series 6 product red back
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.

Tag: Health
Related Forum: Apple Watch

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Top Rated Comments

Expos of 1969 Avatar
41 months ago
So basically a meaningless study. Very small sample group and maybe this and maybe that.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
spyguy10709 Avatar
41 months ago

As a personal anecdote, my Apple Watch ( needlessly? ) put me in the OR. I have had very mild arrhythmia for a few decades. My Apple Watch's ECG caught an episode of V-tach, which I showed to my doctor. He sent me to a cardiologist, who then sent me to an electrophysiologist. He took one look at the ECG and scheduled me for a heart study with possible ablation. This resulted in a ~$15,000 procedure which discovered that my heart was just fine. They were unable to recreate the arrhythmia in the cath lab and sent me home.

So I suppose my Apple Watch helped me rule out a potentially fatal heart disorder, but in this instance, ignorance would have been just as good and considerably cheaper.


what are you doing with an apple watch, but no health insurance?
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
dannyyankou Avatar
41 months ago
Obviously Apple Watch shouldn’t take the place of going to a doctor. But it’s nice that it can alert users to possible heart issues that would’ve otherwise went unchecked.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Duane Martin Avatar
41 months ago
As this is MacRumors let me be the first to blame the Apple Watch, Tim Cook, Apple, and lefties in general for causing people who wear Apple Watches to require more medical procedures.

Twice my Apple Watch has notified me of a high heart rate while not exercising. I have seen my doctor and though no problem was identified he thought it was pretty handy that I got the notification, told me to keep an eye on that. It also reacted when I fell on some ice this past winter. Pretty amazing tool.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Kuro Avatar
41 months ago

As a personal anecdote, my Apple Watch ( needlessly? ) put me in the OR. I have had very mild arrhythmia for a few decades. My Apple Watch's ECG caught an episode of V-tach, which I showed to my doctor. He sent me to a cardiologist, who then sent me to an electrophysiologist. He took one look at the ECG and scheduled me for a heart study with possible ablation. This resulted in a ~$15,000 procedure which discovered that my heart was just fine. They were unable to recreate the arrhythmia in the cath lab and sent me home.

So I suppose my Apple Watch helped me rule out a potentially fatal heart disorder, but in this instance, ignorance would have been just as good and considerably cheaper.


I had a reasonably similar experience, except in my case during my electrophysiology study they confirmed that I had Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, which was corrected with an ablation. Very glad to have caught and dealt with it before it became a problem.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mattspace Avatar
41 months ago
People who can afford a relatively expensive economic-want device that monitors their heart, can also afford the repeated doctor, specialist, and surgeon procedures that lead to surgery on their heart.

The study is showing the improved (*edit* increased) medical outcomes of affluence in a user-pays-healthcare society.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)