Apple Watch Detects Hypertension and Sleep Apnea

ammy 17/11/2017 1 Comment

Apple Watch  Detects Hypertension and Sleep Apnea

Apple Watch Detects Hypertension and Sleep Apnea

Imagine wearing a timepiece that alerts you when your blood pressure shoots above ‘normal’ and when you suffer from a serious sleep disorder. It definitely makes you feel confident and more importantly, safe. According to a recently released study, this is possible when you own an Apple watch.

Findings from a study by the University of California, San Francisco in collaboration with a startup app provider, Cardiogram reveal that Apple watch has the ability to detect hypertension and sleep apnea with an accuracy of 82% and 90% respectively. Cardiogram owns an app which monitors and analyses the heart rate data which Apple watch collects.

The research considered data from about 6,115 regular users of the cardiogram app on Apple watch. The study worked on the principle which indicates that individuals with a low variability in heart rate are about 1.45 times more prone to hypertension. It is also based on guidelines which revealed the possibility of using variability in beat-to-beat heart rate to diagnose sleep apnea.

Out of the 6,115 participants in the study, 1,016 were found to have sleep apnea while hypertension was detected in 2,230 of them. This was possible with the use of a specially trained neural network known as deep heart. Using 70% of the participants, the researchers trained the deep heart to spot changes in heart rate variability. The neural network was tested on the 30% who were not selected for the training.

Motivated by the accuracy recorded in the study, Cardiogram is quite convinced that with further research, Apple watch (and other similar wearables) can be applied as a cost-effective option to detect such conditions. The methods currently adopted for the diagnosis of sleep apnea is more strenuous than just putting on an Apple watch during sleep. Usually, the process involves the attachment of numerous sensors to the individual’s body while he/she is asleep.


Johnson Hsieh, who represents Cardiogram, strongly believes that the study points to hope for the majority of wearables integrated with a heart rate sensor. His belief he says is based on the fact that they are all powered by the same technology.

Cardiogram also pointed out the need for a clinical research involving peer review to decide if these gadgets can effectively screen an individual for high blood pressure and disorders like sleep apnea.

According to Hsieh, the principle behind this revelation is that continuous screening will spot more hypertensive individuals who are ignorant of their condition. This will be followed by leading them to the appropriate conclusive diagnosis which employs the use of a blood pressure band or cuff, after which treatment is carried out.

The study by UCSF and Cardiogram follows other groundbreaking research on deep learning in medicine such as the findings on skin cancer in January by Stanford and the study of diabetic eye disease by Google Brain.

Apple watch was first released on the 24th of April, 2015 while the series 3 of the wearable device was launched in September, 2017.