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With Cardiogram's AI, Apple Watch can detect sleep apnea, hypertension, study shows

14 November 2017

There's Global Positioning System, a heart-rate sensor, cellular connectivity, and computing resources that not long ago would have filled a desk-dwelling beige box. Although it doesn't have a sphygmomanometer to measure blood pressure, it might help in determining your blood pressure.

An estimated 22 million adults in the United States suffer from sleep apnea.

With the right algorithms, it might make the Apple Watch a personal physician and not just a personal trainer. Both conditions are common but often go undiagnosed, yet can lead to life-threatening problems like a stroke or heart attack.

The study tapped Cardiogram, an Apple Watch application created to monitor heart activity and flag irregularities. 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.

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A study from the University of California San Francisco and Cardiogram has been published, and the findings suggest that the Apple Watch might be an excellent tool for predicting hypertension and sleep apnea.

According to Brandon Ballinger, Cardiogram co-founder, DeepHeart was trained on data gathered from 70 percent of total participants and then tested again on the remaining 30 percent data that were not used in the previous training.

More than 6,000 users of Cardiogram were recruited into the study.

On Monday, a research claimed that the heart rate sensor and step counter of Apple Watch could predict whether the wearer has high blood pressure or suffering from 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.

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Furthermore, Aetna partnered with Apple to lower the cost of Apple Watches so it can give them to its members at a reduced price.

Moreover the Apple watch successfully detected sleep apnea in the subjects with an accuracy of 90 percent.

At first glance, the association between heart rate, high blood pressure, and sleep apnea may seem surprising. They diagnose hypertension by putting that familiar cuff on your arm.

"Checking for sleep apnea is not part of your routine doctors visit", said Ballinger.

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