Wearable technology developer Garmin is a collaborating with the University of Kansas Medical Center to better understand how wearables can assist in the detection and management of significant medical conditions. Their initial research will focus on sleep apnea and atrial fibrillation.

“Garmin Health is excited to work with a nationally-recognized institution like KU Medical Center that is on the forefront of digital health research,” said Scott Burgett, Director of Garmin Health Engineering. “As patients assume increased responsibility for their own health care, 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 health care costs and provide useful functionality for everyday life.”

For patients with known conditions, continual monitoring can offer health care professionals valuable insight and assist in a well-informed course of treatment. KU Medical Center research provides clinically based data that can aid in the development of algorithms capable of identifying conditions like sleep apnea and atrial fibrillation.

Sleep apnea, a clinically under-detected and costly disorder to study, may affect over 18 million Americans. Garmin Health has worked with Suzanne Stevens, M.D., Clinical Assistant Professor of Neurology, and Catherine Siengsukon, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science, at KU Medical Center to study how a wearable equipped with optical sensors could be used to detect sleep apnea and provide a lower cost alternative to an overnight sleep center evaluation.

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

Atrial fibrillation is an irregular and often rapid heart rhythm that can increase the risk of stroke by 500% and can cause heart failure. It is the most common cardiac arrhythmia, affecting millions of people in the United States alone with rates expected to continually increase. Like sleep apnea, 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 Madhu Reddy, M.D., Associate Professor of Medicine at KU Medical Center and Division Director, Heart Rhythm Services in the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine at The University of Kansas Health System, 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.

Source: Garmin Health