Can Apple Watch prevent strokes? New study aims to find out

Apple Watch has already been credited with saving lives by alerting wearers about heart conditions. But can the smartwatch prevent strokes? A new Johnson & Johnson study aims to find out.

The pharmaceutical company is partnering with Apple to study whether the wearable's irregular rhythm notifications and ECG app on the Apple Watch Series 4 can help accelerate the diagnosis of atrial fibrillation (AFib)—a heart condition that can lead to stroke—and improve health outcomes for those living with it.

Expected to launch later this year, the "multi-year research program" and be limited to individuals ages 65 years and older in the US.

"We're excited about the potential of common, wearable technology to aid in the earlier detection and prevention of a frequent cause of stroke," Johnson & Johnson Chief Scientific Officer Paul Stoffels said in a statement. "Too many people living with AFib are unaware of their risk, and earlier detection, diagnosis and treatment of AFib could significantly improve outcomes.

More From PCmag

"Based on the insights generated through this research program, we may be able to develop new ways to detect other health conditions earlier in the future that also exhibit measurable physiological symptoms," Stoffels added.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, AFib contributes to around 130,000 deaths and more than 750,000 hospitalizations in the US each year. Around 2.7 to 6.1 percent of people in the US have it.

In a statement, Apple COO Jeff Williams said "this kind of information empowers customers to follow up with the right treatment or even better, implement healthy habits aimed at prevention."

Meanwhile, Fitbit this week announced that users can now opt to sync their health data with the National Institutes of Health's All of Us research program to "help researchers unlock deeper insights into the relationships between health indicators such as physical activity, heart rate, sleep and health outcomes."

Fitbit users who are already part of the program can log on to the All of Us participant portal and visit the Sync Apps & Devices page to set it up. If you're interested in joining, head here.

"Collecting real-world, real-time data through digital technologies will become a fundamental part of the program," All of Us Director Eric Dishman said in a statement. "This information in combination with many other data types will give us an unprecedented ability to better understand the impact of lifestyle and environment on health outcomes and, ultimately, develop better strategies for keeping people healthy in a very precise, individualized way."

This article originally appeared on PCMag.com.