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Fitbit Heart Rhythm Monitor Cleared by FDA

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The device will be able to scan for atrial fibrillation.

When you’re wearing a fitness-tracking smartwatch like a Fitbit, the device passively monitors your heart rate. It’s important to know how much blood your pumping when you’re out on a jog, lifting weights, or just generally exerting yourself. In addition to monitoring your fitness activity, though, this can also be a good way to monitor your pulse for unusual or concerning activity. However, while Fitbits do have capability to scan for an irregular heartbeat, it’s something you have to manually turn on.

In an effort to catch irregular heartbeats faster, Google, Fitbit’s owner, recently submitted a concept for a new feature for the device. This new feature would have your Fitbit regularly scan for atrial fibrillation, or “AFib,” a particular kind of irregular heartbeat that is believed to increase your risk of heart-related complications like strokes.

“When your heart beats, tiny blood vessels throughout your body expand and contract based on changes in blood volume,” Google explained in a blog post. “Fitbit’s PPG optical heart-rate sensor can detect these volume changes right from your wrist. These measurements determine your heart rhythm, which the detection algorithm then analyzes for irregularities and potential signs of atrial fibrillation.”

Today, this feature was officially given the go-ahead by the FDA, which means Google will be implementing it into their Fitbit firmware in the near future. Your Fitbit won’t be able to directly diagnose serious heart conditions, but if it does detect a potential AFib, it will inform you so you can bring it up with your doctor.