Apple, Stanford testing if Apple Watch can detect heart problems

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Apple's iPhone launch event is now in full swing and the U.S. technology giant has just revealed it's launching a brand new Apple Watch.

Apple is reportedly collaborating with Boston-based telemedicine vendor American Well and a group of clinicians at Stanford (Calif.) University to test whether its smartwatch's heart rate sensor can be used to detect heart rhythm abnormalities, according to CNBC.

Arrhythmias, or abnormal heart rhythms, aren't always problematic. For instance, there is this condition called atrial fibrillation that may not manifest external symptoms, but can actually increase the risk of blood clots, strokes and other serious problems. The device is not yet capable of being used for official diagnoses, but it is a useful tool for screening.

American Well declined to comment on its involvement with Apple.

Apple says its Watch will cost from $399 but the celluar model will only be compatible with EE in the UK. It is therefore possible that American Well could really be working with Apple on this project.

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Earlier this year, Stanford's School of Medicine launched five new research projects involving 1,000 Apple Watches through its new Center for Digital Health.

WatchOS 4, Apple's latest revision of the software for its smartwatches, will be available to the public on September 19.

Apple's Tim Cook hinted at the company's interest in heart health applications in an interview with Fortune published 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". That is, Apple Watch will now notify you if you have an elevated heart rate but don't appear to be active. "And yes it is a business opportunity".