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Currently, millions of people with an irregular heartbeat are told to take expensive blood thinners, which prevent strokes, but also increase the risk of dangerous bleeding. A new study will investigate whether Apple Watches can be used as part of a strategy to minimize use of those medications when they’re not needed.

The seven-year study, expected to launch next spring, will compare strokes, bleeding, and health care cost outcomes between people who are given the standard course of blood thinners and an experimental group that will be directed to take medication only after an Apple Watch detects prolonged atrial fibrillation. 


“For many of us physicians who primarily take care of patients, we see the inadequacies of some of the treatment recommendations,” said Rod S. Passman, a principal investigator of the study and director of the Center for Arrhythmia Research at Northwestern University. In his practice he observed that while blood thinners help many patients, others get no benefit and are exposed to danger. “The concept of targeting individuals during high-risk periods grew out of that experience,” he said. 

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