Anxiety, patient activation, and quality of life among stroke survivors prescribed smartwatches for atrial fibrillation monitoring

Cardiovasc Digit Health J. 2023 May 4;4(4):118-125. doi: 10.1016/j.cvdhj.2023.04.002. eCollection 2023 Aug.


Background: The detection of atrial fibrillation (AF) in stroke survivors is critical to decreasing the risk of recurrent stroke. Smartwatches have emerged as a convenient and accurate means of AF diagnosis; however, the impact on critical patient-reported outcomes, including anxiety, engagement, and quality of life, remains ill defined.

Objectives: To examine the association between smartwatch prescription for AF detection and the patient-reported outcomes of anxiety, patient activation, and self-reported health.

Methods: We used data from the Pulsewatch trial, a 2-phase randomized controlled trial that included participants aged 50 years or older with a history of ischemic stroke. Participants were randomized to use either a proprietary smartphone-smartwatch app for 30 days of AF monitoring or no cardiac rhythm monitoring. Validated surveys were deployed before and after the 30-day study period to assess anxiety, patient activation, and self-rated physical and mental health. Logistic regression and generalized estimation equations were used to examine the association between smartwatch prescription for AF monitoring and changes in the patient-reported outcomes.

Results: A total of 110 participants (mean age 64 years, 41% female, 91% non-Hispanic White) were studied. Seventy percent of intervention participants were novice smartwatch users, as opposed to 84% of controls, and there was no significant difference in baseline rates of anxiety, activation, or self-rated health between the 2 groups. The incidence of new AF among smartwatch users was 6%. Participants who were prescribed smartwatches did not have a statistically significant change in anxiety, activation, or self-reported health as compared to those who were not prescribed smartwatches. The results held even after removing participants who received an AF alert on the watch.

Conclusion: The prescription of smartwatches to stroke survivors for AF monitoring does not adversely affect key patient-reported outcomes. Further research is needed to better inform the successful deployment of smartwatches in clinical practice.

Keywords: Atrial fibrillation; Elderly; Smartwatches; Stroke; Wearables.