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The Apple Watch can be used as monitoring tool for frailty, study finds

A new study has found the Apple Watch on your wrist can be used to accurately asses functional capacity in patients, both in-clinic and at home.

Quite a few medical papers have been published on the Cupertino outfit’s wearable in recent years. The latest was released by researchers at the Stanford University. You can read it in full on the PLOS ONE website.


The study

Funded by Apple, this research paper looks at functional mobility of cardiovascular disease patients. It shows that the Apple Watch can be used as a vital medical monitoring tool for monitoring frailty of such individuals.

Some 110 Veterans Affairs patients were enrolled in the study, all of which were due to have a vascular or cardiac procedure. Each participant was equipped for 6 months with an iPhone 7 running the specially-made VascTrac study app and an Apple Watch Series 3.

Activity data such as steps was passively collected on a daily basis. To assess frailty, supervised 6-minute walk tests (6MWT) were performed during clinic visits. This test is often used to evaluate the functional mobility of a patient. It measures the distance covered by a person on a flat ground during 6 minutes. Frailty is defined as walking less than 300 meters during this period.

In addition to tests at the clinic, participants also performed the procedure on a weekly basis at home. This was tracked by the VascTrac app.


The results

The Stanford’s study results showed that the Apple Watch was practically as accurate when it comes to assessing frailty as a supervised test in a clinic. At home, its accuracy for determining frailty was pinned at 83% sensitivity and 60% specificity. In a supervised setting the figures are higher with sensitivity reaching 90% and specificity 85%.

The results clearly show the Apple Watch can be used for this purpose. What’s more, it is likely that third-party software, such as the VascTracap, will not be needed for such assessments in the future. The WatchOS7 already comes the six-minute walk test and other mobility data.

This is done automatically by the watch and you can view your daily, weekly, monthly and yearly averages. To find your score, simply head over to the Respiratory tab in the Health app.

The Apple Watch can be used as monitoring tool for frailty, study finds

Such data can also serve as a great tool for the elderly to measure their functional capacity from the comfort of their home. They can simply walk around and visit a doctor if they find signs of trouble.

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