Suppose you have an Apple Watch or any device that has useful, reliable heart rate variability (HRV) measurement tools. In that case, there is a high chance that the device will detect probable Covid-19 much earlier than the symptoms arrive. This is highlighted by a new study by researchers at Mount Sinai University, who determined that the wearer’s HRV information highlights significant changes around a week before a person tests positive for COVID-19.
The heart rate variability detects the difference in time between heartbeats. If a person is fighting an illness or has a hangover, the HRV measurements would show low. If the person has fair and fitter health, the HRV rate would be high. “The smartwatch showed significant HRV metric changes up to a week before the individuals took a positive nasal swab that confirmed COVID-19 infection,” the study highlighted.
The researchers stated that if the data is studied in time, the device will be a crucial tool in the fight against the deadly COVID-19 virus. It would help individuals detect the outlying HRV indicators earliest, immediately self-isolate themselves earlier, and reduce transmission risks among family or public. “We were already aware that the heart rate variability markers change as the inflammation during COVID-19 develops in the body. This allows us to predict infected people way before they know it effectively,” Rob Hirten, the assistant professor of medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine, stated.
“At present, we rely primarily on people who say they are sick and don’t feel well. But once they have an Apple Watch, there is no requirement of active user input, and the device can easily identify people who might be asymptomatic. The device is the best way to control infectious diseases.”
Apple is actively aware of the study by the researchers, though it didn’t participate. As the information is out, Apple may likely seek to proactively warn its users about HRV drops or far below the standard level in the watchOS. There are also chances that other wearable manufacturers may adopt the method too.
The new study comes from the observations made by the makers of Whoop Strap wearable. The device and the app now proactively measure the user’s respiratory rate, with few Covid-19 sufferers showing significant levels at the onset of the viral disease. “COVID-19 is a lower respiratory tract infection which infects the alveoli, and the point of contact of the virus is in the lungs to the blood. As these parts get damaged, the person’s ability to acquire oxygen into the blood and eject carbon dioxide becomes less functional. This makes the person draw in more breaths,” the company stated.