Smart watches and heart health

Wichita's AMR looking for study participants

Written by Amy Palser

Can a smart watch accurately warn its wearer of an oncoming heart attack or stroke? A Wichita study is out to discover just that, and it’s looking for local participants to help gather data.

Wichita research facility AMR (The Alliance for Multispecialty Research) — formerly known as Heartland Research — is currently conducting the study that will help determine the accuracy of smart watches when it comes to irregular heartbeats. “I’m very happy that Wichita has this great opportunity,” said electrophysiology cardiologist Dr. Ghiyath Tabbal, who is overseeing the study. “It is on the edge, technology-wise. It’s very encouraging.”

The study’s premise is simple: Participants with a history of irregular heartbeat, heart palpitation, beat-skipping or an atrial fibrillation diagnosis will wear both a smart watch and a wireless EKG patch. Data from the watch will be compared to that of the EKG patch, determining how accurate a smart watch’s heart rate analysis is compared to the commonly used FDA-approved patch.

Participants will be provided with the smart watch and EKG patches for the 13- to 15-day study. All contact with AMR — which consists of four visits — will be remote, and the necessary supplies will be shipped. Participants will receive compensation of $625 and return the smart watch at the end of the study.

Tabbal said there is no risk to participants and no procedures involved. “Their data is well protected, and they will get the benefit of continuous monitoring without any financial burden.”

Participants also will learn the results of their own data collected during the study period. “That’s our duty toward them — as a physician and as a researcher, any information that comes to light or a new diagnosis that arises, we will notify the patient and guide them toward the next step.”

The study started in January and AMR is hoping for around 150 more participants. Anyone with a history of irregular heartbeat, from mild to serious, is encouraged to apply for the study. They just have to be age 22 or older.

“The more patients we are able to enroll, the stronger the study will be, the more data will be available and the better the algorithm will be,” Tabbal said.

Alicia Brandt, patient referral specialist at AMR, said participants will be directed in how to apply the EKG patch (worn on the left side of the chest) and when to change it. Wearing it shouldn’t affect their daily activities.

“A-fib can cause strokes, blood clots and other dangerous conditions, and improving the accuracy of these devices to help diagnose these heart issues for people, it’s already making a huge difference,” Brandt said.

To take part in the study, call Brandt at 316.689.6609, or visit and search for “non-invasive atrial fibrillation.”

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