Canadian researchers join Apple to empower heart failure patients

The Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research at University Health Network (UHN) here has collaborated with Apple to give heart failure patients more control over their health from their homes and usher in a new era of remote monitoring possibilities.

The study will investigate how physiological signals from Apple Watch – such as heart rate and the new blood oxygen feature – can help with better management of heart failure with the goal of driving better clinical outcomes for heart failure patients.

The study will be led by Dr Heather Ross, Division Head of Cardiology at UHN’s Peter Munk Cardiac Centre, and participation will be by invitation to heart failure patients receiving care at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre, the university said in a statement.

“Congestive heart failure is one of the most serious heart conditions that can cause symptoms such as shortness of breath and is a major cause of morbidity and mortality for millions of persons around the world,” said Ross.

“Understanding and learning how physiologic signals from Apple Watch and iPhone can be utilized, may lead to innovative solutions for management of this disease and allow us to intervene early and prevent poor clinical outcomes,” she added.

The study will launch later this year with privacy and transparency for participants as a priority.

All user data will be encrypted, and participants have the ability to opt-out at any time.

“We look forward to joining with the team at Apple to continue transforming the future of heart failure management,” said Dr Barry Rubin, Medical Director and Chair of the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre.

With Apple Watch Series 6 expanding the health capabilities of previous models with a new feature that conveniently measures the oxygen saturation of the user’s blood, health experts have welcomed the wearable with oximeter that is the need of the hour for Covid-19 patients who are in home quarantine to monitor their oxygen saturation frequently.

Apple said it will work closely with investigators at the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research and the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre at the University Health Network to better understand how blood oxygen measurements and other Apple Watch metrics can help with management of heart failure.

“Apple is known for innovation around the world and it will be exciting to have our researchers and clinicians working with them on the devices of the future,” said Dr. Kevin Smith, President and CEO of University Health Network.