Apple Watch can detect sleep apnea and hypertension, study shows

The Apple Watch on display

What is more, the watchOS 4 feature will be incorporated in the new Apple Watch. It comes with a Global Positioning System, cellular connectivity, and heart rate sensor, among others.

It affects 22million adults in the USA 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. "So there is this major undiagnosed problem". The study was recently presented at the American Heart Association. And health insurer Aetna said last week that it is partnering with Apple to give Apple Watches to members to try to reduce health costs.

A research team at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) found that the Apple Watch could be a useful diagnosis tool for high blood pressure and sleep apnea if paired with an app developed by Cardiogram.

DeepHeart was trained on data from 70 percent of participants, and then tested on the remaining 30 percent who were not used in training, according to Cardiogram co-founder Brandon Ballinger.

The study looked at 6,115 active Cardiogram app users who used it on an Apple Watch. Cardiogram's founders drew on their previous experience as Google employees, working on speech recognition for Android phones and the Google Assistant.

Data collected from the Apple watches was interpreted by the deep neural network of DeepHeart, which recognized hypertension and sleep apnea. (Like speech, they are signals that vary over time.) The system, dubbed DeepHeart, is given strings of heart-rate and step data from multiple people, and information about their health conditions. The Apple Watch AI will continuously track people, preventing them when hypertension signs appear.

It was able to detect sleep apnea in 1,016 of the participants and hypertension in 2,230 of the testers. Right now most patients must go to the doctor and wait to be tested at sporadic intervals, making it hard to detect if there's a spike in blood pressure in the moment when it becomes critical, and even harder to tell if someone is suffering from sleep apnea, as that is something that happens while the person is asleep. They diagnose hypertension by putting that familiar cuff on your arm.

Both the startup company and the UCSF collaborated to reveal that the said smartwatch could predict hypertension and sleep apnea.

Thus, we wonder how the algorithm of Cardiogram could make a good guess without having to use an equipment.

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