Researchers Claim Smartwatches Can Detect COVID-19 Up To A Week Before Symptoms Appear
If you could have an early warning system for COVID-19, would you take advantage of it? What if the early warning system was as easy as installing an app and pairing it with your smartwatch? Researchers at Mount Sinai Health System and Stanford University have found that devices like an Apple Watch or Fitbit can predict if an individual is potentially COVID-19 positive even before symptoms appear. These tools could be crucial in curbing the COVID-19 pandemic globally and helping with diseases in the future.
The researchers at Mount Sinai discovered that the Apple Watch "can detect subtle changes in an individual's heartbeat, which can signal that an individual has the coronavirus, up to seven days before they feel sick or infection is detected through testing." Over approximately five months, 297 participants in the study were monitored. Each participant's watch monitored and recorded their heart rate, so a metric called "heart rate variability" (HRV) could be observed.
Rob Hirten, the author of the study and assistant professor of medicine at Mount Sinai, told CBS News that this worked because they "knew that heart rate variability markers change as inflammation develops in the body, and Covid is an incredibly inflammatory event." Basically, as COVID-19 takes hold in the body, heart rate variability decreases, which could signal the disease without taking a test.
Another study done by Stanford concluded that 81% of coronavirus-positive people wearing a smartwatch from Garmin, Fitbit, Apple, or others had a change in resting heart rate up to nine and a half days before being symptomatic. The researchers used this conclusion in conjunction with data collected to identify "nearly two-thirds of COVID-19 cases four to seven days before people showed symptoms." The Stanford team was also able to develop algorithms that helped detect changes that could signify a COVID infection.
Ultimately, smart wearables could pick up some of the slack left by not enough COVID-19 tests. Moreover, smart devices can be keeping an eye on people's health for 24 hours a day, so there is less of a chance of spreading the disease if you find out you are an asymptomatic carrier of COVID-19 at any point in the day. At the end of the day, if people could help prevent spreading COVID by wearing a smartwatch all the time, would you do it? Let us know what you think in the comments below.