A new study from New York researchers has found that wearable devices can discover COVID-19 symptoms — and therefore cases — ahead of tests.

What’s going on?

A new study from Mount Sinai researchers in New York — which was published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research on Jan. 29 — found that wearable devices can find traditional diagnostic methods to track COVID-19 symptoms and cases.

  • The study — called the Warrior Watch Study — found that wearable devices can detect heart rate variability, which can signal COVID-19 infection seven days before patients are officially diagnosed through a nasal swab.
  • The wearable devices can identify symptoms as well, according to the study.
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Key quote

“This study highlights the future of digital health,” said Robert P. Hirten, an assistant professor of medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, in a release. “It shows that we can use these technologies to better address evolving health needs, which will hopefully help us improve the management of disease. Our goal is to operationalize these platforms to improve the health of our patients and this study is a significant step in that direction. Developing a way to identify people who might be sick even before they know they are infected would be a breakthrough in the management of COVID-19.”

How the research was done

Researchers reviewed cases for “several hundred health care workers,” according to EMS1.com, a new source for the emergency medical service personnel.

  • The participants wore Apple Watches from April to September 2020 and answered questions about their health.
  • Changes in their heart rate variability were measured to detect whether or not they would be infected with COVID-19. The study found the HRV changes were an indicator of COVID-19 diagnosis.
  • The researchers collected data on symptoms such as fever, chills, fatigue, body aches, dry cough and more.
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More on wearables

Since the beginning of the pandemic, wearables have been used to monitor people’s health through the pandemic.