Apple, Stanford testing if Apple Watch can detect heart problems: Report

Apple CEO Tim Cook also hinted at heart measurements through the Apple Watch.
Written by Jake Smith, Contributor
(CNET/CBS Interactive)

Apple has partnered with a group of clinicians at Stanford and telemedicine vendor American Well to test if Apple Watch can be used to detect cardiac abnormalities, according to CNBC.

Apple reportedly wants to use the Apple Watch's heart rate sensor to detect abnormal heart rhythms, and is specifically focusing on arrhythmias related to atrial fibrillation that carries a risk for blood blots and strokes. A source told CNBC the clinical study involving the Apple Watch is set to begin later this year.

Separately, Apple CEO Tim Cook expressed interest in the heart in an interview with Fortune on Monday:

"We started working on the Apple Watch several years ago," [Cook] said, and one goal was "performing some measurements of your health that people were not measuring, at least continually. Like your heart. Very few people wore heart monitors. We're extremely interested in this area. And yes it is a business opportunity."

Apple hasn't made an official announcement about specific Apple Watch and heart related projects. It's not clear when Apple or partners plan to publicly announce the project. Of course, company plans can often change.

Apple has also been rumored to be working on a non-invasive glucose monitor with the Apple Watch. The Cupertino-based company is holding an event tomorrow, but there haven't been any major health features tipped for announcement.

CNBC previously reported Apple hired Sumbul Desai, a member of Stanford's digital health team who was focusing on Apple Watch projects. The Apple Watch could be used to better tailor a patient's treatment, have better access to data, and detect issues.

Apple in 2014 debuted HealthKit to help healthcare professionals and patients better communicate and manage healthcare data. Apple is rumored to have planned more health features for the first Apple Watch, but many of the features were dropped due to consistency problems.

We have reached out to Apple for comment, and will update you if we learn more.

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