Fitbit, now owned by Google, has been given the green light by authorities to integrate a new feature into its wristbands that will passively check for atrial fibrillation, a form of irregular heartbeat.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted the company authorization to market the PPG (photoplethysmography) algorithm. This algorithm uses LED lights and a sensor to measure changes in blood vessel size, transforming that information into heart rate data.
Thanks to the integration of the new algorithm, the manufacturer’s bracelets will be able to detect if a person suffers from atrial fibrillation, an alteration in the rhythm of the heart also known as arrhythmia. According to health authorities, this health problem affects 33 million people worldwide.
Atrial fibrillation can cause blood clots to form inside the heart. If these become detached, they can lead to obstructions in the arteries of the brain or other locations, causing cardiovascular accidents such as strokes or embolisms.
The Fitbit device will send a notification to the user in the event that it detects an irregular heart rhythm. It is important to note that these types of functions cannot be used to diagnose, but only to take into account the possibility that the condition exists. In that case, it is advisable to go to a doctor as soon as possible for a correct evaluation.
“We want to make atrial fibrillation screening as accessible as possible to help reduce the risk of stroke and improve overall heart health for everyone” He says Fitbit in a statement announcing the new feature.
The new PPG-based algorithm and irregular heart rhythm notifications feature will be available soon in the United States on most heart rate-enabled devices from the manufacturer.