Scientists from Stanford University found that the Apple Watch in association with an iPhone can be used to monitor frailty in people with heart disease.
The research is published in PLOS ONE and was conducted by Neil Rens et al.
People with heart disease often lose physical abilities because the heart is unable to keep up with increased demands.
Thus, many such patients develop frailty, which is defined in this case as an inability to walk distances greater than 300 meters in six minutes.
The test has been named the six-minute walk test (6MWT) and is used as a standard means of assessing the health of heart disease patients—it is generally conducted in a clinical setting.
In this study, the team assessed the capabilities of an Apple Watch app they developed called VascTrac which has been designed to conduct the 6MWT on heart disease patients.
They tested the app and device by enlisting the assistance of 111 CVD patients. Each was given an iPhone and Apple Watch running the VascTrac.
The volunteers were then asked to test the app by attempting to walk for six minutes—both at home and in a clinical setting.
The researchers found the system could assess the frailty of the volunteers in the clinical setting with a sensitivity of 90% and specificity of 85%. At home, the numbers were 83% and 60%.
The researchers say that their 6MWT system was able to provide clinically useful information for patients regarding their health in a home environment.
They also note that their system could be particularly useful during emergency situations, such as a pandemic when many CVD patients are afraid to visit a doctor’s office.
They also note that their experiments were conducted over many months in 2018 and 2019.
Apple has since added the VascTrac abilities to the WatchOS, which means users of new Apple Watches can take advantage of the capabilities without having to download an app.
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