Fitbit's passive heart rhythm monitoring algorithm gets FDA approval

Polycount

Posts: 3,011   +589
Staff member
Health tech: Fitbit's line of wearable watches might have started as simple step trackers, but their capabilities have expanded greatly over the years. The company now sells full smartwatches, and even its more stripped-down devices boast features like automatic exercise detection, sleep tracking, heart rate monitoring, and more. The company is about to take things a step further with automatic ECG functionality, thanks to recent approval from the FDA.

To be clear, Fitbit already allows users to use its trackers to monitor their hearth rhythm, but it requires them to open up the Fitbit app and manually initiate a check -- an extra step that will be made obsolete. Soon enough, Fitbit devices will be able to continuously check your body for potential signs of atrial fibrillation; a serious medical condition that can precede major health complications like strokes or blood clots in the heart.

The good news is that atrial fibrillation is treatable in many cases, and with something like Fitbit's new PPG AFib algorithm, you can get an early warning if you might be in danger. Of course, we're not saying a consumer-grade fitness tracker is any substitute for regular health check-ups and doctor visits, but it certainly can't hurt to have more chances to catch a serious problem.

Fitbit says the optimal time to test for AFib is when the body is still at rest due to its "sporadic" nature. Since Fitbit trackers can (and should) be worn overnight anyway, that works out nicely.

The Google-owned wearable company says its PPG detection technology is 98 percent accurate according to research data presented at 2021's American Heart Association Scientific Session. It has also been clinically validated by a "landmark" study in 2020 involving over 450,000 patients.

Whether you believe Fitbit's claims is, of course, up to you. However, it's nice to see that the company hasn't moved away from its consumer health-focused roots following its acquisition by Google in 2021.

Permalink to story.

 

bviktor

Posts: 849   +1,266
I have no doubt some will whip up a conspiracy or two, but I can't imagine FDA approval comes easy with something like this in the private sector.
Yup, interesting statement for sure. The whole point of an FDA examination is to determine whether I can believe it or not. It's not "up to me".
 

SirDigby

Posts: 900   +761
TechSpot Elite
While Fitbit's many measurements have a large degree of inaccuracy, steps, distance, floors climbed, sleep etc. the heart rate monitoring is one I actually do find to be very accurate.
 

Ludak021

Posts: 687   +508
I like my SEIKO Astron better...I don't like wearing toys over my wrist...Jewelry, well, just this watch sometimes, when I suit up.
 

mountains

Posts: 65   +75
Health monitoring tech will certainly be more and more common. This is a great and obvious idea.

But yes, controlled by the giant and voracious semi-unregulated tech companies. Paywalls and massive data tracking. Even if smaller companies step up, the smaller companies will likely be swallowed by the large. But g__g? One of the worst ones...

Access to the data from health gadgets should be open source so any software can read it.

Still, cool tech! Hoping for a less "Don't Don't be evil" competitor. And of course waiting for the tech to mature.
 

Polycount

Posts: 3,011   +589
Staff member
Yup, interesting statement for sure. The whole point of an FDA examination is to determine whether I can believe it or not. It's not "up to me".
I just generally don't like to come across as if I'm instructing readers how to feel about something. I think FDA approval is pretty ironclad, but my sources for the story are also Fitbit/Google directly and not the FDA, so I wouldn't blame anyone for questioning some of the exact numbers.
 

netman

Posts: 776   +336
"Of course, we're not saying a consumer-grade fitness tracker is any substitute for regular health check-ups and doctor visits, but it certainly can't hurt to have more chances to catch a serious problem."_____ You'll be surprised the majority of the so called "Doctors" won't be able to detect your sickness and they refused to refer you to a specialist of have you checked up with a machine...!