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. Cardiogram is a company that has an app that breaks down the heart rate data that is collected by the Apple Watch. The study looked at data from 6,115 Apple Watch wearers that was interpreted by the Cardiogram "DeepHeart" neural network.
The study found that the neural network could correctly recognize hypertension with 82% accuracy and sleep apnea with 90% accuracy. The study was based on already established guidelines that suggest people with low heat rate variability are 1.44 times more likely to develop high blood pressure, and that algorithms can accurately determine sleep apnea by looking at beat-to-beat heart rate variability.
This study recruited participants for a Health eHeart study and trained the DeepHeart neural network to detect new variables with heart rate. The training used 70% of those participants with the remaining 30% of participants not used for training. The study found that out of the 6,115 people who participated, sleep apnea was detected in 1,016 of those people had high blood pressure in 2,230 of them.
The study proved accurate enough in its diagnosis of these conditions that Cardiogram believes with additional research, wearables like the Apple Watch could be used as a cheap way to diagnose these conditions. Current methods for diagnosing sleep apnea are much more involved than simply wearing an Apple Watch while you sleep, requiring hoards of sensors and leads to be attached to the body during sleep. Often a sleep study to diagnose sleep apnea involves an overnight stay in a clinic setting and a poor night's rest for the participant.
Cardiogram does note that peer-reviewed clinical research needs to be performed to determine if these wearables can screen for health conditions like hypertension and sleep apnea. The Apple Watch Series 3 LTE wearable launched earlier this year and we talked about its teardown back in September.