Fitbit has offered continuous heart rate monitoring since 2018, but users still have to manually use the EKG function to check their heart rhythm. That will change “soon,” as Fitbit just gained FDA clearance for an algorithm that passively checks for atrial fibrillation.
Atrial fibrillation or AFib affects about 33.5 million people across the globe. The illness is usually marked by an irregular and extremely fast heart rhythm, which can cause blood clots, strokes, and heart failure. Unfortunately, detecting AFib can be a bit difficult—symptoms can come and go sporadically, requiring long-term observation to nail a diagnosis.
Funny enough, people wear their Fitbit all day and night. That, plus Fitbit’s new PPG AFib algorithm, makes the fitness tracker a stellar device for AFib detection. Once the algorithm reaches users, their Fitbit will automatically perform EKG scans through all hours of the day (even when you’re sleeping) and suggest that you see a doctor if it detects something weird.
In a 2020 study, Fitbit found that its algorithm detects AFib with 98% accuracy. That makes Fitbit one of the cheapest and most convenient tools to detect heart disease. Still, it’s worth noting that the Apple Watch offers a similar feature, also with FDA clearance.