According to a new study carried out by Libo Wang, a cardiology fellow at the University of Utah School of Medicine, people with irregular heartbeats who use wearable devices like Apple Watches and Fitbits are not flooding doctors with worried calls (via The Verge).
Cardiologists regularly see patients who have been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, a type of abnormal heart rhythm, bring in data from an Apple Watch or Fitbit. “The people who were wearing wearables didn’t necessarily call into the office more,” Wang says. “That was a welcome surprise.”
However, people with wearables did have more medical procedures done during the study period. Specifically, this group was more likely to have an ablation, a type of procedure that creates scars in the heart to restore a normal heartbeat.
It may be that people with heart conditions who decide to buy an Apple Watch do it because they’re feeling more symptoms and want a good way to flag that to a doctor, Wang says.
“That may be appropriate, and they may be benefiting from the ‘extra’ ablation.” Alternatively, patients could see their watch flagging an abnormal heartbeat and worry that their atrial fibrillation is getting worse — even when it isn’t. “That may be a waste of time and risk to the patient,” he says.
The study looked at 125 people with atrial fibrillation who visited University of Utah Health during a 90-day period and who mentioned using a wearable including an Apple Watch or a Fitbit.