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Toronto (Feb. 18, 2021) – As part of the University Health Network, renowned cardiologist Dr. Heather Ross has launched a new clinical study, in collaboration with Apple to test if remote monitoring with Apple Watch can help with early identification of worsening heart failure. In this study, data collected using an Apple Watch will be compared to data routinely collected from the rigorous physical tests that patients normally undergo, to see if Apple Watch health sensors and features, including the Blood Oxygen app and mobility metrics, can provide early warning for worsening heart failure.
Suitable patients from the heart function program at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre, will be asked to participate in the three month active monitoring study, with each patient using an iPhone and Apple Watch Series 6, and a two-year follow up. The study will investigate the ability of patients to perform traditionally clinic-based assessments in the comfort of their own home. All study participant data collected during the study will be stored in an encrypted form, and participants have the ability to opt-out of the study at any time.
"We think that biometric data derived from Apple Watch may provide comparable, precise, and accurate measurements of fitness, prognostic markers and early warning signals, compared to traditional diagnostics," says Dr. Heather Ross, Division Head of Cardiology, at UHN's Peter Munk Cardiac Centre, Scientific Lead, Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research, and this study's lead researcher. Combining this new technology with expertise in biomedical science, and leveraging the existing Peter Munk Digital Cardiovascular Health Platform for 8,000 heart failure patients already followed by UHN, should give patients and clinicians an exciting new opportunity to gain more precise, in the moment assessments of heart health.
"Surfacing heart health insights has played a key role in the evolution of Apple Watch and we're continually humbled by the responses we hear from users on the impact it has had on their lives," says Dr. Sumbul Desai, Apple's vice president of Health. "We're thrilled to be collaborating with UHN and Dr. Heather Ross to better understand how the powerful sensors in Apple Watch can potentially help patients better manage heart failure, from the comfort of their own home."
It was in Tanzania, on top of Mount Kilimanjaro, that Dr. Ross first glimpsed the future of healthcare. A routine phone call led to her "aha" moment. If she could use her phone from a mountaintop, why couldn't this technology be used to reach patients who can not always travel to receive quality care? Later experiences with text messaging in Uganda, combined with the experience of traveling the Nahanni River into remote Canadian First Nations communities, further reinforced Dr. Ross' determination to use technology to solve issues of equity in healthcare.
"My goal is to make high quality care, accessible to everyone, no matter where they are," says Dr. Ross. "If we can use wearable technology to accurately monitor for essential diagnostics, we can reach all kinds of people, including vulnerable communities who traditionally have been challenged by issues of remote geography or homelessness."
The Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research aims to develop new diagnoses, treatments and tools to prevent and individually manage heart failure – Canada's fastest growing cardiac disease. Enabled by an unprecedented gift of $130 million from the Rogers family in 2014, the Centre was jointly conceived by its three partner organizations: The Hospital for Sick Children, University Health Network, and the University of Toronto. Together, they committed an additional $139 million toward the Centre – representing a $270 million investment in basic science, translational and clinical research, innovation, and education in regenerative medicine, genomics, and the clinical care of children and adults. It is addressing heart failure across the lifespan.
The Peter Munk Cardiac Centre, established through the generous support of The Peter and Melanie Munk Charitable Foundation, is the premier cardiac centre in Canada. Each year, over 163,000 patients receive innovative and compassionate care from a multidisciplinary team who treat some of the most complex cases of heart and vascular disease. Our clinical and research expertise has improved the lives of patients around the world, while we continue to train more cardiologists, cardiovascular surgeons, and vascular surgeons than any other hospital in Canada. The Peter Munk Cardiac Centre is based at Toronto General Hospital, Toronto Western Hospital and Toronto Rehabilitation Institute – all members of University Health Network. For more information, visit
University Health Network consists of Toronto General, recently ranked the #4 Hospital in the World according to Newsweek Magazine, and Toronto Western Hospital, the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, and the Michener Institute of Education at UHN. The scope of research and complexity of cases at University Health Network has made it a national and international source of discovery, education and patient care. It has the largest hospital-based research program in Canada, with major research in cardiology, transplantation, neurosciences, oncology, surgical innovation, infectious diseases, genomic medicine and rehabilitation medicine. University Health Network is a research hospital affiliated with the University of Toronto.
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