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Health Data from Your Apple Watch Can Now Be Used to Study Cardiovascular Disease

Health Data from Your Apple Watch Can Now Be Used to Study Cardiovascular Disease

The Invitae Discover app on Apple Watch will study genetic causes of cardiovascular disease

Last Friday, medical genetics company Invitae announced the launch of a mobile app that leverages Apple Watch data to better understand the genes that cause cardiovascular disease.

The app, known as Invitae Discover, is more than a means to assimilate heart health data — it serves as a clinical research platform.

In a statement, Dr. Robert Nussbaum, chief medical officer of Invitae said, “the creation of the Invitae Discover platform will make it easier to conduct studies that assess genetic test results alongside the biometric data that is now easily available on Apple Watch, thereby joining basic electrophysiological data with genetic information in order to advance our understanding of the genetic underpinnings of disease and help improve clinical care.”

The first study will primarily focus on trying to understand the genetic basis of cardiovascular disease. The researchers want to know what changes contribute to atrial fibrillation and other cardiovascular conditions. The clinical research platform uses biometric data gathered from the Apple Watch in order to better understand the genetics that cause cardiovascular disease. Participation in this study is voluntary and gives the user the flexibility to stop sharing information or withdraw at any time.

According to the World Health Organization, cardiovascular diseases are the number one cause of death globally. An estimated 17.9 million people died from these diseases in 2016. Moreover, the American Heart Association reported that nearly have of all adults in the US have some type of cardiovascular disease.

The pilot study is called Correlations between Atrial Fibrillation and Cardiomyopathy Phenotypes and Variants of Uncertain Significance in cardiac-related genes (Afib CAUSE). When participating in the study, questions about cardiovascular history and risk factors are asked. Data is then gathered from the watch and iPhone application. Participants could also share their medical record from the phone itself. The app may ask for additional information throughout the study.

Participants must be 18 years or older, have received cardiology genetic testing through Invitae, have an Apple Watch or and iOS pairing device, as well as live in the US to be a part of the Afib CAUSE study.

Information from the study is protected under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) and will be supervised by an Institutional Review Board.

“Our first study on the platform is designed to determine the contribution of certain genetic variants to clinical presentations of atrial fibrillation and other cardiovascular conditions associated with abnormal heart rhythms, as well as to improve the interpretation of genetic testing results,” said Dr. Nussbaum.