Morbidity from undiagnosed atrial fibrillation (AF) may be preventable with early detection. Many consumer wearables contain optical photoplethysmography (PPG) sensors to measure pulse rate. PPG-based software algorithms that detect irregular heart rhythms may identify undiagnosed AF in large populations using wearables, but minimizing false-positive detections is essential.
We performed a prospective remote clinical trial to examine a novel PPG-based algorithm for detecting undiagnosed AF from a range of wrist-worn devices. Adults aged ≥22 years in the United States without AF, using compatible wearable Fitbit devices and Android or iOS smartphones, were included. PPG data were analyzed using a novel algorithm that examines overlapping 5-minute pulse windows (tachograms). Eligible participants with an irregular heart rhythm detection (IHRD), defined as 11 consecutive irregular tachograms, were invited to schedule a telehealth visit and were mailed a 1-week ambulatory ECG patch monitor. The primary outcome was the positive predictive value of the first IHRD during ECG patch monitoring for concurrent AF.
A total of 455 699 participants enrolled (median age 47 years, 71% female, 73% White) between May 6 and October 1, 2020. IHRDs occurred for 4728 (1%) participants, and 2070 (4%) participants aged ≥65 years during a median of 122 (interquartile range, 110-134) days were at risk for an IHRD. Among 1057 participants with an IHRD notification and subsequent analyzable ECG patch monitor, AF was present in 340 (32.2%). Of the 225 participants with another IHRD during ECG patch monitoring, 221 had concurrent AF on the ECG and 4 did not, resulting in an IHRD positive predictive value of 98.2% (95% CI, 95.5%-99.5%). For participants aged ≥65 years, the IHRD positive predictive value was 97.0% (95% CI, 91.4%-99.4%).
A novel PPG software algorithm for wearable Fitbit devices exhibited a high positive predictive value for concurrent AF and identified participants likely to have AF on subsequent ECG patch monitoring. Wearable devices may facilitate identifying individuals with undiagnosed AF.