The Fitbit ECG App may help prevent serious complications like stroke by allowing users to spot check for signs of AFib from their wrist
Fitbit SenseTM users in South Africa can now access an electrocardiogram (ECG) app to assess their heart health.
The app provides feedback on heart rhythm and detects for atrial fibrillation (AFib), which is an irregular heart rhythm that increases the risk of serious complications like stroke condition. This condition affects more than 33.5 million people globally.
Heart health matters
While heart disease is a preventable condition, it continues to be the leading cause of death worldwide. Cardiovascular disease is responsible for almost 1 in 6 deaths (17.3%) in South Africa.
And AFib can be particularly difficult to detect as episodes can sometimes show no symptoms. Some studies suggest that as many as 25% of people who have an AFib-related stroke find out they have AFib only after an event has occurred.
“Helping people understand and manage their heart health has always been a priority for Fitbit. Our ECG app is designed to empower you to assess for yourself in the moment and review the reading later with your doctor,” said Eric Friedman, VP, Research and co-founder of Fitbit.
“Early detection of AFib is critical, and I’m excited that we are making these innovations accessible to people around the world to help them improve their heart health, prevent more serious conditions and potentially save lives.”
Fitbit conducted a multi-site clinical trial in regions across the U.S. The study evaluated our algorithm’s ability to accurately detect AFib from normal sinus rhythm and to generate an ECG trace, or recording of a heart’s electrical rhythm, that is qualitatively similar to a Lead I ECG.
The study showed that the algorithm exceeded target performance, demonstrating the ability to detect 98.7% of AFib cases (sensitivity) and was 100% accurate in identifying study participants with normal sinus rhythm (specificity).
Fitbit’s new on-device compatible ECG app helps analyse the heart’s rhythm for signs of AFib.
ECG is a measurement of the electrical activity of the heart, and the Fitbit ECG App is a simple way people can take an on-the-spot reading of their heart rhythm at any time, including whenever they notice any unusual cardiac symptoms.
The new ECG app is part of Fitbit’s broader approach to heart health innovation. Fitbit pioneered the use of heart rate tracking on the wrist with its PurePulse technology in 2014, which uses photoplethysmography (PPG) to monitor the tiny blood volume fluctuations in the wrist with every heartbeat.
Continuing the legacy of heart health innovation, Fitbit announced PurePulse 2.0 in August 2020, delivering the company’s most advanced heart rate technology yet, using an all-new multi-path heart rate sensor and improved algorithm.
This enhanced technology provides users with on-device and in-app notifications if their heart rate goes above or below their set heart rate threshold. Users who receive a notification can also take a survey in the Fitbit app to share with their doctor.
The company continues to develop innovative tools that help people better understand and manage their heart health.
Both long-term heart rhythm assessment (PPG) and spot check (ECG) technology have important roles to play in this regard. Fitbit aims to provide both options to users based on their individual needs.
Long-term heart rhythm assessment could give Fitbit users the ability to identify asymptomatic AFib that could otherwise go undetected.
A spot-check approach with the new Fitbit ECG App can help those who want to screen themselves for possible AFib and record an ECG trace, which they can review with their healthcare provider.
Fitbit launched its Heart Study in May 2020 to validate the use of Fitbit’s PPG technology to identify episodes of irregular heart rhythm suggestive of AFib. The researchers enrolled more than 455,000 participants from the U.S. during the study and they will use the results to support Fitbit’s regulatory submissions globally for its long-term heart rhythm assessment feature.
Fitbit Sense is available with a free 6-month Fitbit Premium trial across South Africa through selected Dis-Chem stores and online. Available in carbon/graphite stainless steel and lunar white/soft gold stainless steel.
 Not intended for use by people under 22 years old. See fitbit.com/ecg for more details.
 Chugh S, Havmoeller R, Narayanan K, Singh D, Rienstra M, Benjamin E, Gillum R, Kim YH, McAnulty Jr JH, Zheng ZJ. Worldwide Epidemiology of Atrial Fibrillation: Global Burden of Disease 2010 Study. Circulation. 2014; 129: 837-847.
 Mortality and causes of death in South Africa, 2014: Findings from death notification / Statistics South Africa. Pretoria: Statistics South Africa, 2015.
 Freedman B, Potpara TS, Lip GY. Stroke prevention in atrial fibrillation. Lancet. 2016;388:806–817.