Mass Screening for Atrial Fibrillation: The Hype, The Methods, The Application

Recently, Apple launched new heart-related features for their Apple Watch, with notable excitement in the press, including an FDA-cleared app that notifies wearers if atrial fibrillation has occurred. Apple admits, however, the watch cannot detect all episodes; inconclusive results are possible; and it’s not intended for people with known atrial fibrillation.1 Notably, this comes shortly after the US Preventive Services Task Force published an advisory stating: “the current evidence is insufficient to assess the balance of benefits and harms of screening for atrial fibrillation with electrocardiograms (ECG).”2, So, what is the public to do about screening? The answer depends upon whether there’s a reason to screen.

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