The feature was previously seen in the Apple Watch.
FDA Approved the Technology
In March, Google announced that it sought US FDA to approve a new atrial fibrillation-detecting technology that it would include in FitBit wearables.
“In 2020, the team launched the Fitbit Heart Study, with nearly half a million people who use Fitbit. The goal was to test our PPG (Photoplethysmography) AFib algorithm, which passively looks at heart rate data, to alert people to signs of an irregular heart rhythm.”Google
Today, Google confirmed that the FDA just approved its algorithm tech.
AFib detection is a popular feature in wearables. Millions of people in the world suffer from a certain form of irregular heartbeat. With this condition, the risk of stroke increases by 5x.
Wearables are no longer the devices that you wear to count your steps. They have evolved and included features that are vital to the wearer’s health.
Fitbit’s AFib technology has heart-rate sensors. It detects blood volume changes. When your heart beats, the blood vessels expand and contract.
How they contract and expand depends on the changes in blood volume. The PPG detects the changes right from your wrist. The measurements determine the rhythm. The algorithm detects it and finds irregularities and signs of atrial fibrillation.
This new tech offers an always-on approach to AFib detection. With a consistent monitor, the device can check when the user is sleeping or at rest. When the wearer is asleep, it’s often the optimal time to detect irregularities.
The company prepares to launch Irregular Heart Rhythm Notifications. It’s a new feature based on its current algorithm. It can alert the wearers to potential heart problems. When it is used in combination with an ECG app, it can provide healthcare professionals with more data about their patients to reach an early diagnosis.
Not to Be Used to Diagnose Heart Disease
Fitbit can’t diagnose heart conditions. Thus, it can’t replace ECG, 2D echo, and other tests to determine the condition of one’s heart.
However, if the device could notify atrial fibrillation, the wearer can choose to go to the doctor to confirm. Of course, additional tests are needed to confirm such conditions.
Fitbit isn’t the first wearable with such a feature. Apple Watch could also tell the wearer if he/she has AFib. If the Watch detects irregular heart rhythms 5 times, it will alert the wearer.
As mentioned atrial fibrillation can increase the risk of stroke. In that case, it’s a good thing to catch the condition earlier. In that way, you can get further testing and treatment.
However, people are not advised to depend on their wearables to monitor their heart condition. One of the concerns of many healthcare professionals is that the wearables may falsely diagnose the wearers of having an irregular heart rhythm. Even though their heart is healthy, they have to undergo a series of tests just to prove whether or not they have this heart condition.
Nevertheless, the new AFib technology may be able to help the wearer. Then again, it is not to be used to diagnose a heart condition.