Apple Watch Can Help Detect COVID-19 at Least a Week before Symptoms Appear

BY Rajesh Pandey

Published 17 Jan 2021

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Studies by Mount Sinai Health System in New York and Standford University in California have revealed that smartwatches like Apple Watch, Fitbit, etc. that continuously measure the heart rate of their wearer can predict whether they are COVID-19 positive or not before they start showing symptoms or their test results are positive.

Researchers at Mount Sinai found that the Apple Watch could detect small changes in one’s heartbeat which could hint at them being COVID-19 positive up to seven days before they start showing symptoms or their test results are positive.

The metric measured by Apple Watch is called heart rate variability which measures the variation in time between each heartbeat. This metric is also influenced as one develops inflammation in their body, which is something that Covid does as well. Anyone with Covid would see their heart rate variability decrease which means there’s little variation in time between heartbeats.

“We already knew that heart rate variability markers change as inflammation develops in the body, and Covid is an incredibly inflammatory event,” Hirten told CBS MoneyWatch. “It allows us to predict that people are infected before they know it.”

The research is based on tracking 300 health care workers in Mount Sinai health care who wore an Apple Watch between April 29 and September 29.

Another study conducted by Standford University in California in which the participants wore different wearables from Apple, Fitbit, and Garmin found that 81% of participants who tested Covid positive had their resting heart rate shoot up almost nine and a half days before they showed any symptoms.

Nearly two-thirds of COVID-19 cases were detected four to seven days before people actually started showing symptoms. The study was conducted with over 5,000 participants and data from 32 people were examined who had tested positive.

Our Take

While Covid vaccines are already rolling out across the world, such studies do show the importance of the Apple Watch and other wearables and how they can help stop the spread of the pandemic in the future.

These studies also show that it is only a matter of time before Apple Watch and other wearables end up becoming an integral part of one’s life from a health perspective.

[Via CBS News]