Johnson & Johnson and Apple launch virtual study to explore stroke risk in seniors

Apple and Johnson & Johnson to study atrial fibrillation to see whether wearable technologies can warn about health problems. (Source: CNN)
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NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (Gray News) - Johnson & Johnson is teaming up with Apple to see if a new app and the Apple Watch can help reduce the risk of stroke in seniors.

The Heartline Study will look at Americans over the age of 65.

"Heartline is a study that has the potential to fundamentally change our understanding of how digital health tools ... could lead to earlier detection of AFib,” Dr. C. Michael Gibson, co-chair of the Heartline Executive Committee and a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, said in a release.

Atrial fibrillation or AFib is a leading cause of stroke, but because many people do not experience symptoms, it can be difficult to diagnose.

The study hopes to change that by accessing whether the Heartline Study app on iPhone and the ECG app and irregular rhythm notification feature on Apple Watch, can reduce the likelihood of stroke and improve health outcomes with earlier detection of AFib.

Myoung Cha, Apple’s head of Health Strategic Initiatives, says the Heartline Study "will help further understanding of how our technology could both contribute to science and help improve health outcomes, including reducing the risk of stroke.”

The study is open to U.S. citizens with a traditional Medicare plan. Participants will also need to have an iPhone 6 or higher and some will need to have their own Apple Watch. The study is expected to last at least two years.

More than 33 million people worldwide and up to six million Americans live with AFib. It is the most common sustained cardiac arrhythmia, resulting in 158,000 deaths and 454,000 hospitalizations each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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