Wearable technology developer, Garmin is a collaborating with the University of Kansas Medical Center (KUMC) in the US to better understand how wearables can assist in the detection and management of significant medical conditions.

Garmin and the academic medical research facility have already begun work on multiple research projects combining the sensor data from Garmin devices and the healthcare expertise of KUMC researchers. Their initial research is focusing on sleep apnoea and atrial fibrillation.

“Garmin Health is excited to work with an institution like KUMC that is on the forefront of digital health research,” said Director of Garmin Health Engineering, Scott Burgett.

“As patients assume increased responsibility for their own healthcare, Garmin is committed to the development of wearables that can lead to the prevention or detection of serious health conditions. With long battery life, high water rating, and high-quality sensor data, we can provide meaningful features that will help reduce healthcare costs and provide useful functionality for everyday life,” continued Burgett.

KUMC research provides clinically based data that can aid in the development of algorithms capable of identifying conditions like sleep apnoea and atrial fibrillation.

Garmin Health is working with Clinical Assistant Professor of Neurology, Suzanne Stevens, MD, and Associate Professor of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science, Catherine Siengsukon, PhD, at KUMC to study how a wearable equipped with optical sensors could be used to detect sleep apnoea and provide a lower cost alternative to an overnight sleep centre evaluation.

“Wearables have already increased the public’s awareness of activity levels while awake. This research helps us better understand how wearables can do the same while asleep, helping to detect sleep apnoea, which left untreated can affect mood, memory, trigger heart arrhythmias, heart attacks, and even strokes,” said Dr Stevens.

Atrial fibrillation is an irregular and often rapid heart rhythm that can increase the risk of stroke by 500% and can cause heart failure. Like sleep apnoea, atrial fibrillation has been cumbersome and costly to detect. Unfortunately, in 20% of patients atrial fibrillation is not identified until they have a stroke.

Garmin Health is working with Associate Professor of Medicine at KUMC and Division Director, Heart Rhythm Services in the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine at The University of Kansas Health System, Y. Madhu Reddy, MD, to study how Garmin wearables could detect atrial fibrillation.

“Wearable technology capable of early detection and monitoring of heart rhythm disorders will be a revolutionary boon to cardiac care,” said Dr Reddy.

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