J&J and Apple Team up for AFib Program With Apple Watch
By Alex Keown
Janssen Pharmaceutical and Apple have teamed up to determine if a new app for the Apple Watch, which has a built-in electrocardiogram can improve the health of more than 30 million people with atrial fibrillation (AFib), a condition that can lead to stroke and other potentially devastating complications.
The app, which was developed by Janssen’s parent company Johnson & Johnson, will record and determine if irregular rhythm notifications and ECG will boost the diagnosis of AFib patients. In the U.S., AFib is responsible for approximately 130,000 deaths and 750,000 hospitalizations every year. The study will analyze the impact of the J&J app on the early detection and diagnosis of AFib and its potential to improve health outcomes, such as preventing stroke. The companies will launch a multi-year collaboration in the United States. The study will be designed as a pragmatic randomized controlled research study for individuals age 65 years or older.
The goals of the study include measuring outcomes of a heart health engagement program with irregular rhythm notifications on the Apple Watch and assessing the impact of a medication adherence program through the J&J app.
AFib is an irregular heartbeat that can lead to the formation of blood clots resulting in stroke, heart failure and other potentially devastating complications. AFib is the most common sustained arrhythmia, increases stroke risk five-fold, and accounts for almost one-third of all strokes.
Paul Stoffels, J&J’s chief scientific officer, said the company is excited about the potential of using wearable technology to aid in the earlier detection and prevention of a frequent cause of stroke.
“Too many people living with AFib are unaware of their risk, and earlier detection, diagnosis and treatment of AFib could significantly improve outcomes. 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 said in a statement.
Recently, J&J’s mSTOPs (mHealth Screening to Prevent Strokes) study demonstrated that earlier screening leads to increased AFib detection. Paul Burton, head of medical affairs and internal medicine at Janssen Scientific Affairs, said the use of wristwatch-based optical heart sensor and ECG monitoring is the logical evolution of the mSTOPs research. He said the app’s study may lead to increased AFib diagnosis and improved clinical outcomes for patients.
“This collaboration brings together Johnson & Johnson’s depth of expertise and long heritage in treating cardiovascular disease with Apple’s experience in utilizing cutting-edge technologies to improve the lives of consumers. Ultimately, we hope to improve the treatment of cardiovascular disease, and identify ways to prevent it,” Burton said.
Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer, said the Apple Watch has been effective in collecting health data and has been able to help people learn more about their heart health. The kind of information the apps on the Apple Watch are able to gather can provide information to people and their doctors as they make lifestyle changes.
“We’re excited to work with Johnson & Johnson, a leader in the medical community, as we learn about the impact Apple Watch can have in delivering better health outcomes,” Williams said in a statement.
Apple has increasingly pointed to the health benefits its Apple Watch can provide people battling a number of diseases. In October, One Drop paired its diabetes management monitoring system with the Apple Watch. That made the One Drop system the only wireless blood glucose monitoring system to connect directly to Apple Watch, the company said at the time.