Wearing an Apple Watch might help you detect if you have been infected with the coronavirus.
The smartwatch can measure small changes in your heartbeat that can reveal a case of COVID-19 up to seven days before the watch’s wearer is actually diagnosed, according to researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.
In the study, nearly 300 health care workers in the Mount Sinai Health System wore an Apple Watch and downloaded a customized app onto their iPhones so researchers could track changes in heart rate variability, which is a measure of nervous system function.
The watch detected significant changes in heart rate variability up to seven days before study participants had a positive nasal swab confirming that they had contracted COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
Such changes also became evident as the participants developed symptoms.
The researchers said the discovery is promising because it suggests the possibility of detecting COVID-19 in people who are asymptomatic.
In a press release, Dr. Robert P. Hirten, assistant professor of medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine and the study’s corresponding author, says the new information might indicate “a breakthrough in the management of COVID-19”:
“One of the challenging things about COVID-19 is that many people are asymptomatic, meaning they have no symptoms but are still contagious. This makes it difficult to contain this infection by using the traditional method of identifying someone who is sick and quarantining them.”
The changes in heart rate variability began to subside seven to 14 days after COVID-19 diagnosis and no longer statistically differed from the patterns of those who were not infected, the researchers said.
Looking for more ways to stay safe from COVID-19? Check out “This Simple Mistake Might Weaken Your COVID-19 Vaccination.”