Smartwatches and other wearable devices that continuously measure the user’s heart rate, skin temperature, and other physiological markers can help with detectionDays before a person is diagnosed.
Devices like thatAccording to studies by leading medical and academic institutions, including New York’s Mount Sinai Health System and Stanford University, Garmin and Fitbit watches can predict whether a person is COVID-19 positive before they become symptomatic or get the virus through Testing is detectable in California. Experts say wearable technology could play an important role in containing the pandemic and other communicable diseases.
Subtle heartbeat changes
Researchers at Mount Sinai found that the Apple Watch can detect subtle changes in a person’s heartbeat that can signal that a person has the coronavirus up to seven days before they feel sick or have tests detect an infection.
“Our goal was to use tools to identify infections at the time of infection or before people knew they were sick,” said Rob Hirten, assistant professor of medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City and Author of the Warrior Watch study.
In particular, the study analyzed a metric called heart rate variability – the variation in time between each heartbeat – which is also a measure of how well a person’s immune system is working.
“We already knew that heart rate variability markers change when inflammation develops in the body, and Covid is an incredibly inflammatory event,” Hirten told CBS MoneyWatch. “It allows us to predict that people will be infected before they know it.”
People with COVID-19 showed less variability in heart rate than COVID-negative people, or in other words little variation in time between heartbeats.
High heart rate variability does not reflect an increased heart rate: it indicates that a person’s nervous system is active, adaptable, and more resistant to stress.
Investigators tracked nearly 300 Mount Sinai employees who wore Apple Watches between April 29 and September 29.
Apple did not participate in or fund the study, but is aware of the capabilities of its watches. Tim Cook touted the watch’s role in the Mount Sinai study in September.
The data collected by smartwatches could help tame the virus, as more than half of coronavirus cases are spread by asymptomatic carriers. This comes from a model published last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Right now, we rely on people to say they are sick and not feeling well. However, wearing an Apple Watch does not require active user input and can identify people who may be asymptomatic. This is one way of making infectious diseases better check.” Said shepherds.
A separate study from Stanford, in which participants wore various activity trackers from Garmin, Fitbit, Apple, and other manufacturers, found that 81% of coronavirus-positive participants experienced changes in their resting heart rate up to nine and a half days before the onset of symptoms. An extremely increased heart rate was an indication of the onset of symptoms, the study reported.
According to the study published in Nature Biomedical Engineering in November, researchers used smartwatch data to identify nearly two-thirds of COVID-19 cases four to seven days before people showed symptoms. The study looked at data from 32 people who tested positive for the virus from a pool of more than 5,000 participants.
The team also developed an alarm system to alert wearers that their heart rate has been increased for an extended period of time.
“We set the alarm to a sensitivity level so that it would go off about every two months,” said Michael Snyder, a professor at Stanford University who led the study. “Regular fluctuations don’t trigger an alarm – just significant, persistent changes.”
“It’s a big deal because it alarms people not to go out and meet people,” he added. For example, when Snyder’s alarm went off recently, he canceled a face-to-face meeting in case it could be contagious.
Such technology could also help offset some of the shortcomings in coronavirus testing, Snyder said. “The problem is, you can’t always do it on humans while these devices are measuring you 24/7. The smartwatch gives you the data back instantly in real time, while with a bit of luck you get your test back in a few days . “
Wearable device manufacturers are also exploring how the technology can be used to fight the virus. Oura Health, a smart health data collection ring, helped fund a study from the University of California at San Diego and the University of California at San Francisco that found the device to detect subtle symptoms such as the early onset of fever that could indicate COVID-19.
Whoop, a manufacturer of sleep tracking devices, has partnered with Central Queensland University, Australia, on a peer-reviewed paper showing their technology can help identify coronavirus infections based on variations in users’ respiratory rates during the Predict night sleep. Healthy subjects showed little variability in their respiratory rate, while deviations indicated impaired respiratory health.
“All of these studies are consistentThe markers of physiological function collected by devices allow us to identify these conditions and diseases in a non-invasive way, “said Hirten.