Updated 4/27/2022 10:10AM EST: 9to5Google has confirmed with Fitbit that the update that enables Irregular Heart Rhythm Notifications started rolling out on April 25th to eligible Fitbit devices in the U.S. However, for now the feature is limited to the United States and may take a few weeks to appear for everyone. The eligible devices are the following:
- Fitbit Sense
- Fitbit Versa 3
- Fitbit Versa 2
- Fitbit Versa Lite
- Fitbit Charge 5
- Fitbit Charge 4
- Fitbit Charge 3
- Fitbit Luxe
- Fitbit Inspire 2
Original Post – 4/13/2022 5:22PM EST: In a new blog post, Google has announced that Fitbit has received FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) clearance to use a new algorithm in its products in order to help detect irregular heart rhythm conditions such as Atrial Fibrillation (AFib). This new algorithm, based on PPG (photoplethysmography), is different from what has been used before by Fitbit’s ECG app in that instead of just doing spot checks, it actually allows for long-term heart rhythm assessment, as explained below:
Our new PPG AFib algorithm can passively assess your heart rhythm in the background while you’re still or asleep. If there’s anything that might be suggestive of AFib, you’ll be notified through our Irregular Heart Rhythm Notifications feature — allowing you to talk with your healthcare provider or seek further assessment to help prevent a significant medical event, such as stroke.
The Mayo Clinic describes Atrial fibrillation as an “irregular and often very rapid heart rhythm (arrhythmia) that can lead to blood clots in the heart. AFib increases the risk of stroke, heart failure, and other heart-related complications.” It affects as many as 33.5 million people globally and can be difficult to detect as the symptoms can come and go or sometimes not even appear at all. Google hopes that more people will be able to catch it in time and get help through their healthcare provider with this new algorithm.
The new PPG-based algorithm and Irregular Heart Rhythm Notifications feature will be available soon to users in the U.S on a range of heart-rate enabled devices. As far as Fitbit goes, the devices compatible right now are the Sense, Versa, Versa Lite, Charge 4, and Inspire 2 watches. As a Fitbit user, I am very excited about this feature, and as a future Pixel Watch user, I am even more excited and hopeful that this feature will be available on it.