A new University Health Network heart failure study utilizes the Apple Watch Blood Oxygen app

Apple Watch Series 6 Review
Apple Watch Series 6 Review (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • The University Health Network has launched a new study about heart failure.
  • This study utilizes data from the Blood Oxygen app on the Apple Watch Series 6.
  • Data from this study could determine if patients could potentially assess themselves at home, rather than going to clinics.

The University Health Network (UHN) has announced the launch of a brand new study about how the Apple Watch can assist in detecting heart failure and progression in its early stages. Apple is partnering with cardiologist Dr. Heather Ross for this comprehensive study, and it utilizes the Blood Oxygen app on the Apple Watch Series 6.

In this study, data from the Apple Watch will be routinely collected and compared to the physical tests that heart failure patients go through. This will help determine whether the health sensors and other features in the Apple Watch, including the Blood Oxygen app as well as other metrics, can actually provide early warning signs for patients. This study can also help decide if patients can do assessments at home, rather than going to clinics.

For the study, patients from Peter Munk Cardiac Centre will soon be asked if they want to participate in a monitoring study, which will actively last for three months. Each patient will need to use an iPhone and an Apple Watch Series 6, since it is the only Apple Watch with the necessary Blood Oxygen app.

According to Apple's Vice President of Health, Sumbul Desai, it's important that there are studies like this to provide hearth health insights, and how the Apple Watch can play an important role in determining that.

"Surfacing heart health insights has played a key role in the evolution of Apple Watch and we're continually humbled by the responses we hear from users on the impact it has had on their lives," says Dr. Sumbul Desai, Apple's vice president of Health. "We're thrilled to be collaborating with UHN and Dr. Heather Ross to better understand how the powerful sensors in Apple Watch can potentially help patients better manage heart failure, from the comfort of their own home."

Dr. Ross, who is in charge of this particular study, believes that Apple Watch biometric data "may provide comparable, precise, and accurate measurements of fitness, prognostic markers and early warning signals, compared to traditional diagnostics."

This is not the first heart-related study that Apple has participated in. Back in 2019, Stanford Medicine published a paper on its Apple Watch Heart Study, where they were trying to determine whether the Apple Watch can be used to detect atrial fibrillation. From this study, the conclusion was reached that the Apple Watch actually can be used to detect irregular heart rhythms.

So this new heart failure study could possibly lead to similar results, but with blood oxygen levels instead. Since COVID-19 has an effect on the levels of oxygen in the blood, this study can prove beneficial.

Christine Chan

Christine Romero-Chan was formerly a Senior Editor for iMore. She has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade at a variety of websites. She is currently part of the Digital Trends team, and has been using Apple’s smartphone since the original iPhone back in 2007. While her main speciality is the iPhone, she also covers Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac when needed. When she isn’t writing about Apple, Christine can often be found at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, as she is a passholder and obsessed with all things Disney, especially Star Wars. Christine also enjoys coffee, food, photography, mechanical keyboards, and spending as much time with her new daughter as possible.