Currently, the throat swab method is the best way to test for coronavirus, but as astonishing as it may seem, an Apple watch can actually detect the coronavirus. Two studies were conducted that came out with the conclusion that smart wearables like the Apple Watch, Garmin smartwatch, etc. were able to detect COVID-19 earlier than the symptoms of the covid infection became visible. Moreover, the success rate was high.
Heart rate variability tracking on Apple Watch the key to these tests
The key metric for such tests is heart rate variability. This metric measures the time between two consecutive heartbeats. If you are healthy and your body isn’t suffering from any infection, the heart rate will fluctuate depending on the situation that you’re in. For instance, it will change and increase if you’re running or under any stress. Similarly, it will be low if you are relaxed.
But if your body has infections of any kind, in particular inflammatory infections, your nervous system will react slower, which will lead to lesser variability in heart rate.
First research on the accuracy of heart rate variability on Apple Watch
The first study was from Mount Sinai Medical Center as the researchers recruited 300 medical staff from April 29 to September 29. All of them were subjected to wearing Apple Watches.
The heart rate variability on the smartwatches was used to analyze the heart rate of all the staff involved in the study. This metric would measure the working condition of the immune system. Through the heart rate changes, the Apple Watch was able to detect the coronavirus seven days before the symptoms began appearing.
The researchers found out that because of the development of inflammation in the body, the people who were infected with the virus had lower heart rate variability. The goal was to use tools for identifying infections at the tie of infections or before the staff felt they were getting sick.
Second research on the accuracy of resting heart rate on smart wearables
The second study was conducted by Stanford University as the subjects involved were made to wear smart wearables like Apple Watch, Fitbit, and Garmin. The study found out that these smartwatches could track changes in the resting heart rate up to 9.5 days before the symptoms began appearing in covid-positive patients.
Researchers also claimed that there was a rapid increase in heart rate in patients, which indicated that the symptoms of pneumonia had started to appear. People infected showed symptoms of increased heart rate, which is a long-term symptom not present in the initial phases of the illness.
Using data from the smartwatches, the researchers were able to find two-thirds of the cases seven days before the symptoms began to appear. They even invented an early warning system that sounded an alarm if someone’s heart rate rose for a long time.