A team of researchers from ICHAN MEDICAL School in Mount Sinai has found evidence that smartwatches can detect symptoms of COVID-19 before a person realizes they are infected. On its website, the Sinai Mountains team describes testing 297 health workers using data from their Apple watches.
One of the early signs of a COVID-19 infection is inflammation in the infected area of the body. And when inflammation begins, the body responds with a slight change in blood flow. These changes in blood flow appear as small changes in a person’s heart rate that are detected by smartwatches such as Apple watches.
By recording a person’s heart rate over a long period, the smartwatch can establish a normal baseline for the person wearing the watch.
And in case of sudden, prolonged changes, such as prolonged heart rate variability, the device can detect them too. In the Mount Sinai test, volunteers were asked to wear a smartwatch throughout the day and install a watch app that specifically targets permanent changes to their heart rate.
The researchers found that the clock was able to identify two-thirds of infected people, an average of seven days before the volunteers noticed symptoms. CBS News recently looked at the results of a team from Mount Sinai and another study from Stanford University, as well as other companies, to see if their smartwatches could work the same way.
They found that most smartwatches can detect COVID-19 infection for up to a week before symptoms appear. They also found that technicians could create a smartwatch app to notify users, who could then self-quarantine themselves during testing. And that could slow the spread of current and possible future pandemics.
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