Apple, J&J to study if Apple Watch app leads to lower stroke risk

An Apple Store employee shows the new Series 5 Apple Watch during the preview of the redesigned and reimagined Apple Fifth Avenue store in New York, U.S., September 19, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid –

An Apple Store employee shows the new Series 5 Apple Watch during the preview of the redesigned and reimagined Apple Fifth Avenue store in New York, U.S., September 19, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid –

(Reuters) – Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) said on Tuesday it would partner with Apple Inc (AAPL.O) on a study to use an iPhone app and the Apple Watch to study how earlier detection of afibrilation impacts stroke in people aged 65 or older.

Last year, Apple’s Heart Study here found that the watch could accurately detect atrial fibrillation, the most common type of irregular heartbeat, according to a study that explored the role of wearable devices in identifying potential heart problems.

The new effort, called “Heartline,” is significant because the J&J is one of the world’s largest medical device makers and pharmaceutical companies. The study could also reach a different population than Apple’s original heart study, which included 400,000 participants but faced questions from medical experts because more than half of the people who signed up were under 40, a group already at low risk for atrial fibrillation.

The J&J study will be open to the more than 40 million people enrolled in traditional Medicare plans, which cover people aged 65 and older as well as the disabled. Study participants will be randomly assigned to either use only an iPhone app or use the app in conjunction with a watch capable of taking an electrocardiogram, or ECG.

If patients who enroll are assigned to the arm of the study using the Apple Watch, they will be prompted to acquire one of the devices, which study officials said the participants can either purchase on their own for personal use or borrow free of charge for the study. The study will also pay incentives to patients to participate, but the companies did not disclose which side would bear the costs.

The study will require participants to share their Medicare claims data, which officials said was aimed at tracking the ultimate outcomes of using the app.

Reporting by Ankur Banerjee in Bengaluru, Stephen Nellis in San Francisco and Caroline Humer in New York; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Franklin Paul