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Eric Risberg / AP

Using the Apple Watch and artificial intelligence, health startup Cardiogram reports they could detect a type of abnormal heart rhythm with 97% accuracy by analyzing data from the watch's heart sensor.

Why it matters: Atrial fibrillation affects an estimated 2.7 million people in the U.S. and is a predictor of heart attack, stroke and dementia. The abnormal rhythms are the cause of 1 in 4 strokes. In many cases, there are no symptoms and though people are monitored for weeks to try to catch the abnormalities, months can pass before they occur, so they are missed. The researchers hope by continuously monitoring for abnormalities they can lower the number of undiagnosed cases.

Methodology: The researchers collected heart rate and EKG measurements from 6,158 Apple Watch users who are part of the UCSF Health eHeart study. 166 of them had been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. Their measurements were used to train a neural network to tell the difference between normal and abnormal heart rhythms. They then tested the AI in 51 patients who were in the hospital for a procedure to reset their heart rate and found it could detect atrial fibrillation with 97% accuracy compared to an electrocardiogram.

Bigger picture: The study is the latest demonstration of how AI might find its way into medicine. Stanford researchers recently reported an AI could analyze images to detect skin cancer and Google has taken a similar approach to screen for diabetic retinopathy.

What's needed: More testing with more people. Cardiogram also plans to hone the algorithm and test it against "gold standard" EKG measurements. The researchers reported 90% specificity meaning roughly 1 in 10 detections was a false positive. "The real challenge isn't the tech, but framing the implementation of these new tools in a way that maximizes benefit for health care while minimizing risk of over treatment due to false positives," says Mintu Turakhia from the Stanford Center for Digital Health, who adds "this is promising work."

Go deeper

58 mins ago - Health

CDC says some immunocompromised people can get fourth COVID shot

Photo: Noriko Hayashi/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in updated guidelines Tuesday that some immunocompromised people who have received either Pfizer or Moderna's COVID-19 vaccines will be able to get a fourth shot.

Details: People over 18 who are "moderately to severely immunocompromised" and have received three doses of an mRNA vaccine may get a fourth shot (of either the Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson vaccines) at least six months after getting their third Pfizer or Moderna dose, per the CDC.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Biden plan expected to include at least $500B for climate

Photo: Stephanie Keith/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The White House is privately telling lawmakers the climate portion of President Biden's roughly $2 trillion social spending plan is "mostly settled" and will likely cost more than $500 billion, two sources familiar with the talks tell Axios.

Why it matters: A pricetag of $500-$555 billion is a huge number and, if it holds, would likely be the single biggest component of the sweeping package. It also isn't far off from the roughly $600 billion proposed when the bill was expected to cost $3.5 trillion.

2 hours ago - World

U.S. presses Gulf countries to help resolve Sudan coup crisis

Jake Sullivan briefs the press. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty

The Biden administration has asked its partners in the Gulf and elsewhere to press the Sudanese generals who carried out a coup on Monday to release captives including Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok and to reinstate the civilian government, White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said in a press briefing on Tuesday.

Why it matters: The U.S. has limited influence over coup leader Gen. Abdul Fattah al-Burhan and other military leaders, many of whom have close ties to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.