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Can Everyday Technology Help Prevent A Stroke? A New Study Aims to Find Out—Here’s How You Can Participate

Is that flutter in your chest and shortness of breath a result of the stressful day you just had or is it something more?

It’s hard to know whether it’s time to try yoga or time to call the doctor—especially when symptoms overlap or come and go. We’re all busy and it’s easy to simply dismiss the nagging feeling that something’s not right, but we’ve all heard the stories of those who wish they would have done something more, before the worst happened to their family member, or even themselves.

Senior woman doing yoga in her homeCourtesy Heartline

Johnson & Johnson, in collaboration with Apple, is exploring how everyday technology like the iPhone and Apple Watch can enable earlier detection of atrial fibrillation (AFib), a leading cause of stroke and a potential cause of many of the symptoms listed above.

Johnson & Johnson, in collaboration with Apple, is enrolling eligible adults 65 and older in a new, nationwide, virtual study to determine if the Heartline Study app on iPhone, sometimes paired with an Apple Watch, can help detect atrial fibrillation, and potentially reduce the risk of stroke. Participation in the study is easy, can be done from the comfort of home through your iPhone, and allows you to contribute to important medical research. What technology do you need to participate? Just an iPhone— participants need only an iPhone to join although some participants may need to obtain an Apple Watch. Participants will be offered two options to obtain a watch: purchase one or get one on loan for the duration of the study and return it when your participation in the study ends. Johnson & Johnson and Apple are committed to ensuring that participation in the study is not limited on the basis of financial need. To learn more about the study, visit www.heartline.com and download the Heartline Study app from the App Store to determine if you’re eligible to participate in the study.

In addition to contributing device and health data during the study, you will also receive access to a heart health engagement program, with tips that may help improve your sleep, fitness, and wellness in the Heartline Study app each week. The program can help you become more engaged with your overall health from the comfort of your home, in addition to learning important information about keeping your heart healthy. This may help you learn how to decide when mild symptoms might mean it’s just time to exercise more, or when they could potentially be a sign of something more serious, meaning it’s time to call a doctor.

Senior woman checking her phone in her kitchenCourtesy Heartline

AFib is a common form of irregular heart rhythm that up to six million Americans live with, many unknowingly. That means the flutter in your chest and the feeling that you’re out of breath could mean more than just stress—and it could be dangerous. Risk of developing AFib increases with age. Approximately 70 percent of AFib patients are between ages 65 and 85. Unfortunately, many individuals who have AFib aren’t even aware that they have it until they experience a serious cardiovascular event such as a stroke. Most people don’t pay attention to the small health concerns—like a short bout of dizziness or feeling more tired than usual. It’s the more concerning events that get our attention, like having difficulty walking or talking, or experiencing numbness in our arms and legs—all symptoms of stroke. Left untreated, AFib doubles the risk of a heart-related death, and as many as 15 to 20 percent of stroke victims have the condition.

Senior man working out boxing at a gymCourtesy Heartline

The reason AFib catches so many off guard is simple: symptoms can seem small or may not be noticed at all. Symptoms of AFib, which include heart palpitations, shortness of breath, fatigue, dizziness, and chest discomfort, can mimic other conditions. Although there is no one cause of AFib, it is often associated with other conditions, like heart valve disease and high blood pressure.

Senior man teaching a child to play the pianoCourtesy Heartline

Because AFib causes the heart to beat quickly and irregularly (that’s the flutter you feel that can cause you to feel nauseous, out of breath, and panicked), the flow of blood has a harder time making its way through the heart. The slower flow of blood makes it more likely that the blood will clot, which may result in a stroke. Individuals with AFib are up to seven times more likely to have a stroke, which is why treatment for AFib often includes blood thinners.

AFib is a condition you’ll want to know if you have sooner rather than later, and this study by Johnson & Johnson aims to explore how everyday technology like the iPhone and Apple Watch can enable earlier detection of AFib. You can participate in the study if you’re 65 or older, a resident of the United States for the duration of the study, have an iPhone 6s or a later model (with iOS version 12.2 or later), and agree to provide access to your Medicare healthcare claims data. The study is enrolling those with and without an AFib diagnosis. Additional entry criteria may apply; you can find out if you’re eligible by downloading the Heartline Study app and answering questions about your age and health.

iphone with the heartline information on its screenCourtesy Heartline

There’s no need to visit your doctor to enroll in this virtual study. Simply download the Heartline Study app from the App Store to determine if you’re eligible to participate. If you’re 65 or older, or have a loved one who is, consider learning more about the study and sharing information with loved ones. To read more about the study and how your heart health matters, visit Heartline.com.