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Fitbit has made available to its users in South Africa its electrocardiogram (ECG) app to assess heart rhythm for atrial fibrillation (AFib), a condition that affects more than 33.5 million people globally. The Fitbit ECG App, will be available from 13, April 2021 to the users on Fitbit Sense in South Africa.

Heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death worldwide, despite being one of the most preventable conditions, and in South Africa, cardiovascular disease is responsible for almost 1 in 6 deaths (17.3%). AFib, an irregular heart rhythm that increases the risk of serious complications like stroke, can be particularly difficult to detect, as episodes can sometimes show no symptoms. Some studies suggest that as many as 25 percent of people who have an AFib-related stroke find out they have AFib only after a stroke has occurred.

“Helping people understand and manage their heart health has always been a priority for Fitbit, and our ECG app is designed to empower you to assess for yourself  in the moment and review the reading later with your doctor,” said Eric Friedman, VP, Research and co-founder of Fitbit. “Early detection of AFib is critical, and I’m excited that we are making these innovations accessible to people around the world to help them improve their heart health, prevent more serious conditions and potentially save lives.”

Fitbit conducted a multi-site clinical trial in regions across the U.S. The study evaluated our algorithm’s ability to accurately detect AFib from normal sinus rhythm and to generate an ECG trace, or recording of a heart’s electrical rhythm, that is qualitatively similar to a Lead I ECG. The study showed that the algorithm exceeded target performance, demonstrating the ability to detect 98.7% of AFib cases (sensitivity) and was 100% accurate in identifying study participants with normal sinus rhythm (specificity).

Fitbit’s new on-device compatible ECG app helps analyse the heart’s rhythm for signs of AFib. ECG is a measurement of the electrical activity of the heart, and the Fitbit ECG App is a simple way people can take an on-the-spot reading of their heart rhythm at any time, including whenever they notice any unusual cardiac symptoms.

Fitbit Sense is the company’s most advanced health smartwatch, with the world’s first electrodermal activity (EDA) sensor on a smartwatch to help manage stress, and an on-wrist skin temperature sensor, all powered by 6+ days of battery life to help users take control of their health and wellbeing during this unprecedented time. Sense is Fitbit’s first device compatible with an ECG app that enables users to take a spot check reading of their heart that can be analysed for normal sinus rhythm or atrial fibrillation (AFib). Users simply hold their fingers to the stainless-steel ring on the watch while being still for 30 seconds to get a reading that can be downloaded and shared with a doctor.

Broader Commitment to Heart Health

The new ECG app is part of Fitbit’s broader approach to heart health innovation. Fitbit pioneered the use of heart rate tracking on the wrist with its PurePulse technology in 2014, which uses photoplethysmography (or PPG) to monitor the tiny blood volume fluctuations in the wrist as the heart beats, and we continue to develop innovative tools that help people better understand and manage their heart health.

Both long-term heart rhythm assessment (PPG) and spot check (ECG) technology have important roles to play and Fitbit aims to provide both options to users based on their individual needs. Long-term heart rhythm assessment could give our users the ability to identify asymptomatic AFib that could otherwise go undetected, while a spot check approach with new Fitbit ECG App can help those who want to screen themselves for possible AFib and record an ECG trace they can review with their healthcare provider.

In May 2020, the Fitbit Heart Study launched to validate the use of Fitbit’s PPG technology to identify episodes of irregular heart rhythm suggestive of AFib. Through its duration, the Fitbit Heart Study enrolled more than 455,000 participants from the U.S. Results from this study will be used to support Fitbit’s regulatory submissions globally for its long-term heart rhythm assessment feature.

Continuing the legacy of heart health innovation, Fitbit announced PurePulse 2.0 in August 2020, delivering the company’s most advanced heart rate technology yet, using an all-new multi-path heart rate sensor and improved algorithm. This enhanced technology provides users with on-device and in-app notifications if their heart rate goes above or below their set heart rate threshold.[7] Users who receive a notification can also take a survey in the Fitbit app to share with their doctor.

Availability

Fitbit Sense is available with a free 6-month Fitbit Premium trial across South Africa through Takealot, Sportsmans Warehouse, Cape Union Mart, Total sports, Dis-Chem, Incredible Connection, Makro, E-Bucks, FNB and other retailers. Fitbit Sense is available for R7,999 in carbon/graphite stainless steel and lunar white/soft gold stainless steel.