NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J.—Johnson & Johnson disclosed today that Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a member of the Johnson & Johnson family of companies, has entered into a research study in collaboration with Apple Inc. to investigate whether a new heart health program using an app from Johnson & Johnson in combination with Apple Watch’s irregular rhythm notifications and ECG app can accelerate the diagnosis and improve health outcomes of the 33 million people worldwide living with atrial fibrillation (AFib), a condition that can lead to stroke and other potentially devastating complications. In the U.S. alone, AFib is responsible for approximately 130,000 deaths and 750,000 hospitalizations every year.
AFib is an irregular heartbeat that can lead to the formation of blood clots resulting in stroke, heart failure and other potentially devastating complications. AFib is the most common sustained arrhythmia; it increases stroke risk five-fold and accounts for almost one-third of all strokes. Because blood clots formed in the heart can be large, AFib-caused strokes tend to damage large areas of the brain, which typically leads to a higher risk of death, significant damage and increased cost of treatment and care. Around 20% of individuals who experience a stroke were not aware of their underlying AFib condition.
“We’re excited about the potential of common, wearable technology to aid in the earlier detection and prevention of a frequent cause of stroke,” said Paul Stoffels, M.D., Vice Chair of the Executive Committee and Chief Scientific Officer, Johnson & Johnson. “Too many people living with AFib are unaware of their risk, and earlier detection, diagnosis and treatment of AFib could significantly improve outcomes. Based on the insights generated through this research program, we may be able to develop new ways to detect other health conditions earlier in the future that also exhibit measurable physiological symptoms.”
The study aims to analyze the impact of Apple Watch on the early detection and diagnosis of AFib, and the potential to improve outcomes including the prevention of stroke. A multi-year research program will be launched later in 2019. This large-scale program will occur in the U.S. only, and will be designed as a pragmatic randomized controlled research study for individuals age 65 years or older. The study’s goals include measuring the outcomes of a heart health engagement program with irregular rhythm notifications on Apple Watch, and assessing the impact of a medication adherence program using an app from Johnson & Johnson.
“Through Apple Watch people have been able to learn more about their heart health, including discovering they have AFib. This kind of information empowers customers to follow up with the right treatment or even better, implement healthy habits aimed at prevention,” said Jeff Williams, Chief Operating Officer, Apple Inc. “We’re excited to work with Johnson & Johnson, a leader in the medical community, as we learn about the impact Apple Watch can have in delivering better health outcomes.”
Johnson & Johnson’s recent mSTOPs (mHealth Screening to Prevent Strokes) study demonstrated that earlier screening leads to increased AFib detection.
“Utilizing wristwatch-based optical heart sensor and ECG monitoring is a logical evolution of this research and may also lead to increased AFib diagnosis and improved clinical outcomes for patients,” said Paul Burton, M.D., Ph.D., FACC, Vice President, Medical Affairs, Internal Medicine, Janssen Scientific Affairs, LLC. “This collaboration brings together Johnson & Johnson’s depth of expertise and long heritage in treating cardiovascular disease with Apple’s experience in utilizing cutting-edge technologies to improve the lives of consumers. Ultimately, we hope to improve the treatment of cardiovascular disease, and identify ways to prevent it.”