Apple Watch Could Be Used to Detect Coronavirus Infections

Current tests for coronavirus generally involve waiting until someone is sick before being tested and then trying to isolate them if their test is positive. If we could easily identify infected people before they show symptoms, we could contain and treat them more effectively – and this could be possible with wearable health devices like the Apple Watch.

A study by researchers at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital reported by CBS shows how Apple Watches can detect coronavirus infection prior to a diagnosis.

The researchers used data from Apple Watches to track a metric called HRV, or heart rate variability, which measures how much the time between a person’s heartbeats changes over the course of the day. A high HRV means that the person’s nervous system is responding to cues in a healthy and active way, while a low HRV implies that the nervous system may have difficulty adjusting to change. Scientists know that a low HRV can predict whether a person could be infected with a virus. Therefore, the researchers wanted to examine whether it can be used to predict coronavirus infections in particular.

Researchers measured the HRV of nearly 300 Mount Sinai health care workers who volunteered to wear an Apple Watch and downloaded a special app to track their HRV. Of those health care workers who contracted coronavirus, the researchers found that HRV changed seven days before a positive coronavirus test was performed.

This means that changes in HRV measured by a device like an Apple Watch can be used to identify coronavirus infections even before people even realize they are sick.

Advances in digital health offer a unique opportunity to improve disease containment, ”the authors write, pointing out that people are already familiar with health monitoring wearables like the Apple Watch and have the benefit of not requiring active activity Order so that data about you is collected. This is compared to other options, e.g. B. Using an app to track vital signs. This can be time consuming and easy to forget.

The paper has not yet been peer-reviewed, meaning it has not yet been reviewed by the medical community and its results should be viewed as speculative. However, it does suggest that wearables like the Apple Watch could help identify, track, or monitor diseases like the coronavirus in the future.

A pre-print version of the paper is available on medRxiv.

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