According to a limited study recently published in Nature, researchers were able to detect obstructive HCM (HOCM) using a noninvasive optical sensor contained in many commercial smartwatches.
How the Technology Works
These watches used photoplethysmography, a noninvasive optical method used to detect blood volume changes in the microvascular bed at the skin surface. The same technology is used in clinical pulse oximeters and is now widely incorporated in commercial smartwatches that have heart rate detection.
For this limited study which was included as an adjunct to MyoKardia’s Phase 2 PIONEER-HCM study of the the drug mavacamten (formerly known as MYK-461), 5 HCM centers in the US obtained smart watch data and echocardiograms from 19 HCM patients who had left ventricular outflow tract obstruction. The researchers compared these readings to readings from a control group of 64 healthy volunteers. The researchers were able to identify significant differences between the heartbeats of those patients with HOCM and those of the healthy volunteers.
Potential for Widespread Use
Before this technology can be put into widespread use, more research is needed to support this limited sample. However, in the future, this technology could potentially prove to be an easy and inexpensive way to screen people for obstructive HCM.