BMS-Pfizer, Fitbit partner to improve AFib detection in people at risk for stroke

The Bristol-Myers Squibb-Pfizer Alliance and Fitbit on Oct. 17 announced they’d be partnering to improve timely diagnosis of atrial fibrillation in people at an increased risk of stroke.

BMS-Pfizer and Fitbit don’t have clearance from the FDA yet, but, according to a statement, once their submission is approved they’ll focus on providing users with an educational platform to encourage and facilitate discussions between patients and their physicians. 

“We’re in a new era of healthcare, where we’re not only focused on developing treatments but also looking at the potential of technology and data to help patients learn more about their health,” Angela Hwang, group president of Pfizer Biopharmaceuticals Group, said in the statement. “We are excited about wearable and how our work with BMS and Fitbit may potentially help patients and physicians detect and understand heart rhythm irregularities.”

Stroke greatly raises the risk for AFib, which is the most common type of arrhythmia in the U.S. Since AFib can be asymptomatic it often goes undetected until after a CV event; research suggests more than 25% of patients with AFib only find out they have the condition after being hospitalized for a stroke.

Wearables represent an opportunity to lower that number, but the team at BMS-Pfizer said that while wearable health trackers are becoming increasingly popular and increasingly accurate, users often lack the medical education or guidance to interpret their data.

“Too many people discover that they are suffering from atrial fibrillation only after experiencing a stroke,” Joseph Eid. MD, head of medical affairs at Bristol-Myers Squibb, said in the statement. “These efforts with Fitbit exemplify not only our unwavering commitment to addressing the evolving needs of patients with atrial fibrillation, but also our dedication to advancing care by embracing technology as a part of routine clinical practice.”