Should You Participate In The Apple Watch Heartline Study?

Apple and Johnson and Johnson are collaborating on an interesting research study which aims to analyze the impact of an app-based heart health program with Apple Watch on the early detection  of atrial fibrillation (AFib), and the reduction of stroke risk.

I tried to participate in this study but didn’t meet the entry requirements which are as follows:

  • Be age 65 or older
  • Be a resident of the United States for the duration of the study
  • Use an iPhone 6s or later, with iOS 12.2 or later (Learn more)
  • Have Original Medicare, sometimes called Traditional Medicare (Learn more)

Because I’m still working I have private health insurance and didn’t qualify.

According to the Heartline website:

The Heartline Study is a pragmatic, randomized, controlled, virtual research study, from Johnson & Johnson, in collaboration with Apple. The primary objective is to analyze the impact of features on Apple Watch, combined with a heart health engagement program, on early detection of atrial fibrillation and clinical outcomes such as stroke. In addition, the study seeks to determine the impact of a heart health engagement program paired with a medication adherence intervention among those participants receiving an oral anticoagulant therapy who have been previously diagnosed with AFib. The data will also be used to find novel markers to identify, predict, or evaluate other health conditions.

The study website indicates some participants may get to borrow an Apple Watch 5:

Some participants may be asked to obtain an Apple Watch Series 5 or later. These participants will be offered two options to obtain a watch: purchase a watch, or get one on loan for the duration of the study and return it when your participation in the study ends. Johnson & Johnson and Apple are committed to ensuring that participation in the study is not limited based on financial need. Not all participants will be asked to obtain a watch, so make sure to follow the instructions in the app.

Information for Healthcare Providers who are trying to decide whether their patients should participate Is here.

Here is the study in graphic form


Screen Shot 2020-03-01 at 8.23.01 AM There is an extensive FAQ section on the Healthline website which reveals the following companies roles:

Janssen Scientific Affairs, LLC, an affiliate of Johnson & Johnson, is the sponsor of the Heartline Study. Apple is supporting the study technology and design of the app. Evidation Health provides the technology and study operations that enable the Heartline app and study experience for participants. Best Buy operates the Apple Watch distribution program for eligible study participants.


The ostensible motive for Apple and J  and J is to improve outcomes in patients with afib.  Obviously Janssen will sell more of its blood thinner Xarelto if more cases of afib are identified.

Participants will be sharing lots of private information with Apple and Evidation.

Despite these concerns I would likely have participated if I qualified and I will recommend that interested patients consider participating in Heartline.

Skeptically Yours,



14 thoughts on “Should You Participate In The Apple Watch Heartline Study?”

  1. Okay… I started participation Feb 1 ’21…. as I noted before… in March ’21 I got an AFib alert…. as of Nov ’22 I have had 5 episodes. Back when I had my first.. I told my sister about it and she purchased and Apple Watch and within a few months she too had an AFib episode. So we both are now on medication and have a Cardiologist. I do wonder if the fact that I had received my second Covid vaccine less than two weeks prior had any impact. I do know that I am genetically predisposed..but can’t help but wonder if the shot had some impact. My sister also had had the second shot a few months prior to her first episode… probably just a coincidence ..but I can’t help but wonder…

  2. I signed up for the study, and I had the iPhone 6s, which was the advertised base phone required to pair with the Apple Watch. I bought the specified watch (with the generous discount) but then discovered that it would not pair with the iPhone 6s. Apparently–and contrary to the statements in the Heartline promotional material–one needs an iPhone 8 or later. After 3 days, I have no solution or update from Heartline based on my emailed question, but I do own a fancy watch that will not even tell me the time. I have found the phone support to be inaccessible. I remain hopeful for some response, but not encouraged.

  3. I decided to sign up. I’d been considering getting an apple watch so I applied. I have an iPhone 6s to run my dual hearing aids. I was selected for the apple watch group so I spent $79 on the watch and another $79 on Apple care in case anything happens to it.

    Yes you do have to sign away complete access to your medical data and medical survey information So what. What is someone nefarious going to do with it except try to scam you or your insurance company. That’s if they can get their hands on it in the first place. You do read those notices of benefits paid don’t you? You probably should. It doesn’t take long, and anything dodgy will stand out if you are looking for it.

    I like the watch, but you have to pay attention to charging it up daily. Best time for a recharge for me is mid-morning study time or evening an hour or two before bedtime. Takes an hour to fully charge.

  4. I decided to sign up… my father had Afib and I suspected I might be genetically predisposed. Frankly I had no interest in an apple watch… saw it as a tool mostly for athletes… did I really need to know my altitude of Oxygen level (I already owned a $26 oxygen detector)… but I thought what the heck… especially when told I could buy an apple watch for $49 plus sales tax on the retail value… so for $78 or so I had a new toy. First thing I noticed was that the OCD part of my personality, wanted to complete the exercise, standing and moving goals… so it was my own personal trainer…. after a few weeks I was hitting the goals each day… I was about to increase my goal… when something interesting happened…. three hours after having completed my 15 minute exercise target… I was sitting on my bed watching TV…. when my phone sent me a notice…. my heart rate was very high… 150 bpm high… I hadn’t noticed anything. but then I realized that yeah….my heart was racing. So I decided to play with my new toy and check oxygen…okay… and then ran a ecg…. up popped the words “irregular rhythm suggestive of afib”…. well that freaked me out… I was in the program less than 2 months…. so every few hours I checked my ECG and for 14 hours i was out of sync… and then as sudden as it started it was over… the only symptom was rapid heart beat…which I didn’t even notice until I was notified. I had set up the watch to track my sleep… and even while sound asleep my heart rate was bouncing up and down from 66 to 145 all night long… I have now reached out to my doctor… so far things have stabilized… but I am glad I decided to participate in this program… and I realize now that …what I thought was a panic attack some 10 years ago or so…might actually have been another afib situation. Whether the end result will be avoiding stroke in the future …only time will tell. But really happy I have this toy I thought was for young athletes….

  5. Our phones are Samsungs. Galaxy somethings., New. I do not know if it supports the APP for this Apple watch program, Please let me know. Thank you. My husband had CABG and Bypass surgery three years ago. Please reply. Thanks, Connie and Jim

  6. I have signed up and have ordered a watch with a 44mm display for $79 and change. The 40mm version is $49. The other option is to borrow a watch for the duration of the study and then return it.
    I have been interested in the Apple Watch’s afib and other health capabilities and wondered if Medicare would cover one, or another opportunity to obtain one affordably would come along. I have recurring, occasional bouts of afib mostly controlled by medication, with an anticoagulant to guard against stroke. I think I’m sometimes in afib when I’m not and I’m in it when I don’t realize it, so a wearable that could inform me when afib occurs and help in the study of this technology and of afib is very appealing.
    I read the voluminous information provided on data use and security and am not worried someone will obtain health care with my Medicare account.
    I was pleased to see an informed, independent evaluation of the study. Thank you.

  7. I joined last year and enjoyed it until they started making standing the required number of times every day or get no credit at all. Started with 3 days, then 4, 5, 6, and finally 7. So if I missed the first day of the week forget any credit for the rest. Or if I missed the last day, no credit for ones done. I needed at least one day of grace and it became a stressor for me to worry about so I quit. I wished I could’ve let it not bother me, but it really got to me. It wasn’t for money, just triggered my wanting to be a good girl and failing. I sent them a note but got no response except if I quit, stay quit. Many days I was up and down more than the minimum, just not necessarily in their strict timeline. I even started cheating by waving my arms. Not good for me. Too much attention required. But I think I got $35 Best Buy credit, still unredeemed for my participation.

  8. I signed up and I have Regular Medicare. They said I didn’t qualify because they aren’t working with my insurance provider. ?!?

  9. i’m so glad you posted about the study…i was qualified to sign up…and had started the process.. when i realized you had to give them your social security number and then later in the process you to had to give them your medicare number and access to your records and also sign up for a medicare account. when i asked my husband for the info to do this part…he said …no… as right on medicare it says… do not ever share your medicare #. we realized then how much they were asking for and i immediately opted out!
    i know they tell you in the process utmost security for your info…it just seemed to risky! i hope people realize the info they have to provide!!!

    also…there was 2 options for getting the watch if you were placed in the group that would actually be using the watch.
    1. you can buy watch for the very reasonable price
    2. you could rent the watch but must return after study completion. the study added this option for people to join if they could not afford the watch!

    i would have liked to do the study..but giving that much info out was just too risky!

  10. I signed up, I figured what could it hurt and I just got a $399 Apple watch for $49 plus tax. So far I’m happy. And maybe it will help someone.

    • Cheryl,
      My understanding is you will have to return the watch after 2 years. Is that what Heartline told you?
      Please keep us updated on your experience with the study.
      Dr P


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