Wearables can detect early signs of diabetes with 85% accuracy says new study

With the Cardiogram app, the Apple Watch can do things never intended – identify irregular heart rhythm, sleep apnea, hypertension and now even diabetes.

Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets

As part of an ongoing study with the University of California, San Francisco Department of Medicine, Cardiogram found that Apple’s smartwatch can be used to detect diabetes in previously diagnosed patients with 85% accuracy. The mobile health data company’s deep learning network, DeepHeart, used data from over 14,000 people and was able to correctly identify diabetes in 462 individuals.

Apparently, a correlation between diabetes and the body’s autonomic nervous system allows DeepHeart to detect the disease through heart rate readings. Best of all, this was done just by using sensors from the Apple Watch with no additional accessories.

“Your heart is connected with your pancreas via the autonomic nervous system. As people develop the early stages of diabetes, their pattern of heart rate variability shifts,” Cardiogram co-founder Johnson Hsieh explains.

Cardiogram has conducted similar studies in the past. The company has shown that Apple’s smartwatch can be used to detect irregular heartbeat with 97% accuracy, hypertension with 82% accuracy and sleep apnea with 90% accuracy.

apple watch can detect diabetes with 85 accuracy according to new study - Wearables can detect early signs of diabetes with 85% accuracy says new study

Diabetes is a lifelong condition that causes a person’s blood sugar level to become too high. Globally, it is estimated that over 380 million people suffer from the disease. But about one third of these don’t know they have the condition. People throughout the world are encouraged to learn about the risks and warning signs.

Of course, this does not mean the wearable on your wrist will diagnose you, or screen you, for diabetes today. Both Apple and Fitbit are rumored to be working on non-invasive diabetes sensors but non-invasive glucose monitoring is still considered to be years away.

Nevertheless, the research results are promising. Identifying early signs of diabetes without drawing blood would spur new medical research and allow for a host of new health and wellness insights from your wrist.

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