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Apple Health Study is an opt-in app that is separate from Apple Watch's built in monitoring tools, so users who do not want their heart data shared with the study can simply choose to not download the app. Apple also says that while the heart sensor data will be collected for research analysis, Apple itself will not have access to any personally identifiable information.

Healthcare has been looking to mHealth and digital health devices - particularly wearables - for many years in an effort to detect AFib conditions earlier, a hard process given the lack of noticeable symptoms.

Apple Watch owners with irregular heart rhythms might be in luck.

Apple Inc. joined the healthcare industry today with the launch the new Apple Health Study app for the Apple Watch, which gathers heart rate data for a medical study conducted by Stanford University. The study is open to anyone who wishes to participate - as long as they are at least 22 years of age and they own an Apple Watch Series 1 (not 1st generation) or above. "We look forward to continuing to apply deep machine learning techniques to uncover hidden physiological signals in ECGs to improve heart and overall human health". American Well is providing the telemedicine services.

- In some cases, the doctor may recommend a BioTelemetry electrocardiogram (ECG) patch for additional monitoring. As for how the app would work - you just install it and set it up, then go about your day.

The study was first announced in Apple's September event, where the company said it believed the Apple Watch heart rate sensor was good enough to accurately detect AFib, which is a common cause of strokes and heart failure and responsible for around 130,000 deaths in the United States alone each year. According to the iPhone maker, the study is the first of its kind, and it will utilize the heart rate sensor on the Apple Watch. The company hopes to see enrollment on par with previous ResearchKit studies, which had upwards of 15 to 20,000 enrollees in the first week.

Apple has discussed wanting to improve the health features of the Apple Watch, and this new study makes it clear how serious the company is. The most helpful part about this initiative is that the app will notify you if it senses irregular heart rhythms, which could indicate atrial fibrillation, an irregular or rapid heart rate that can increase your risk of stroke. "Apple has announced they're working with a PPG sensor, which I think everybody is, and that's great".