Google-owned wearables brand Fitbit announced Monday that it will soon be rolling out a new atrial fibrillation detection feature for its devices.
According to a Google blog post, Fitbit has received US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval, paving the way for the feature to be deployed to Fitbit wearables in the near future.
Google cites data from a global disease study that says atrial fibrillation affects around 33.5 million people around the world. Citing another study, it is claimed that those who suffer from atrial fibrillation are five times more likely to have a stroke than others.
While Fitbit devices previously allowed users to initiate a test for atrial fibrillation, this new feature would continuously monitor users for signs, greatly increasing the likelihood of a health event being detected.
The blog post describes how the feature works:
When your heart beats, tiny blood vessels throughout your body expand and contract based on changes in blood volume. Fitbit’s PPG optical heart rate sensor can detect these volume changes right on your wrist. These measurements determine your heart rhythm, which the detection algorithm then analyzes for irregularities and possible signs of atrial fibrillation.
It’s important to note that the Fitbit can’t diagnose heart conditions, but if users are notified that atrial fibrillation has been detected, they can go to the doctor for confirmation and medical care.
Fitbit isn’t the first company to offer this feature. The Apple Watch has introduced a similar feature in recent years. Google has owned Fitbit since a 2019 acquisition and plans to develop a smartwatch running on Google’s Wear OS. So far, Fibit devices run on Fitbit OS.
Fitbit hasn’t said exactly when the feature will be rolling out. The company’s blog post simply says it’s coming “soon” in the United States.