Fellow Action Alerts PLUS holdings Apple Inc. (AAPL) - Get Report and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) - Get Report are collaborating on a study of a new heart health program that combines a Johnson & Johnson app with the Apple Watch to detect irregular heartbeat rhythms. 

The research study hopes to find out whether the app and Apple Watch can help with early detection and diagnosis of atrial fibrillation, which affects about 33 million people worldwide, according to the two companies. 

Atrial fibrillation, also known as AFib, is responsible for about 130,000 deaths and 750,000 hospitalizations annually. 

"Through Apple Watch, people have been able to learn more about their heart health, including discovering they have AFib. This kind of information empowers customers to follow up with the right treatment or even better, implement healthy habits aimed at prevention," said Jeff Williams, Chief Operating Officer, Apple Inc., in a statement. "We're excited to work with Johnson & Johnson, a leader in the medical community, as we learn about the impact Apple Watch can have in delivering better health outcomes."

Separately, there were reports this week that Apple is negotiating with at least three private Medicare plans providers to subsidize the Apple Watch for people over 65 to use as a health tracker. The device retails for a minimum of $399.

Shares of Apple closed down 0.59% Thursday at $155.86 while Johnson & Johnson shares were up a dollar at $129.09.