Study: Screening for AFib using wearable devices may be cost-effective

Woman uses smart watch to detect signs of atrial fibrillation.

Wearable devices may be a cost-effective way to screen for atrial fibrillation (AFib), an irregular heartbeat that can lead to serious complications including stroke, heart failure, and heart attacks, according to a study published in JAMA Health Forum.   

AFib is the most common type of heart arrythmia. Studies have shown that population-based screening for AFib could lead to earlier initiation of oral anticoagulation therapy to prevent AFib-related stroke. 

In the study, researchers simulated a virtual trial comparing clinical and cost outcomes under different AFib screening strategies in a population of 30 million people 65 and over. It found that wrist-wearable devices, such as smart watches, are more cost-effective than traditional electrocardiograms and pulse palpation for AFib screening or compared with no screening at all.  The study also found that use of wrist-worn wearables was associated with a reduced stroke incidence and could help detect less frequent AFib episodes through its ability to monitor for potentially irregular heart rhythms on a near-continuous basis. 

The study was funded by the NHLBI and the American Heart Association