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,


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

  1. 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.

    1. 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

  2. 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!

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