Researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital, in New York, have carried out a study that concludes that the Apple Watch is capable of detect a positive for COVID-19 a week in advance of when a PCR would do it.
Participants in the study collected their vital signs for six months
The study results have been peer-reviewed and published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research. 279 employees of the health area of the Mount Sinai institution in New York have been involved in it. During the time of the study they have used smartphones iPhone 6 or higher models and Apple Watch Series 4 or higher smart watches. The data captured by the Apple Watch sensors were transmitted to the iOS Health app, which shared them with la app Warrior Watch developed by researchers.
Those who participated in the study were asked to fill in a form daily during the months of the study to indicate potential coronavirus symptoms in addition to other factors, such as stress. The data were collected between the months of April and September 2020 and the researchers’ attention was focused specifically on the variation of the heart rate, an indicator of the stress on the nervous system.
Combining these data with others associated with the action of the coronavirus (fever, pain, dry tea, loss of the senses of taste and smell), a pattern was developed capable of anticipating the effects of contagion with a week in advance to what a PCR would be able to achieve, specifically those that are done nasal. This is not, however, the first method investigated that tries to advance the detection of the presence of COVID, since there are even algorithms that try to anticipate it through the analysis of the sound of the cough.
At the same time, the study was able to determine that the participants’ heart rate variation patterns normalized more quickly after the diagnosis was made, reaching normal levels in just one or two weeks later.
The researchers remain hopeful that the results of their study can help expand anticipation in the detection of contagious outbreaks due to coronavirus, so that action can be taken from the first moment in isolating those infected, avoiding transmission to other people with whom they maintain contact without having to go for physical examinations.
The study does not end after offering these results. The researchers responsible for the same plan to expand if there are other wearable devices capable of providing information that allows anticipating the diagnosis, such as through sleep monitoring.
In parallel, Apple itself is collaborating on a joint investigation with research teams at medical centers in Seattle and Washington on how changes in blood oxygenation and heart rate can constitute early warning signs of the presence of flu and COVID-19.