Health, Technology

Discover the Hidden Secrets of Disease with Your Smartwatch

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By Latest India News

The future of public health could be in your hands – or the wrist of your hand, to be exact.

Researchers are using smartwatches and fitness trackers to conduct large-scale, intensive studies that wouldn’t have been possible before. It is a growing trend that can expand our knowledge of diseases.

“There really isn’t a disease that won’t be affected by this kind of research,” said Callum McRae, M.D., Ph.D., vice president of scientific innovation in the Department of Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Wearables are already being used for research in heart, respiratory, cardiovascular and liver diseases, as well as gynecology, certain cancers, diabetes, sleep quality, autism and mental health

In a recent example, 1 million iPhone and smartwatch users can subscribe to share information about their menstrual cycle and other aspects of health and life, such as sleep and stress. Already, 100,000 people have enrolled in this Apple Women’s Health Survey, a collaboration between Harvard Apple, and the National Institute of Environmental Protection (NIEHS), which is unprecedented in size and scope.

Doctors know that irregular periods can be a symptom of many things, from infertility to heart disease, diabetes, or even cancer. Many physicians believe menstrual history should be considered a basic characteristic like heart rate or blood pressure, but say menstrual and reproductive health is woefully underfunded and understudied.

With larger and more diverse populations being studied, the researchers hope to advance the diagnosis and treatment of health conditions associated with menstrual disorders.

“We’re capable of ask questions we couldn’t ask earlier than,” said Shruthi Mahalingaiah, MD, one of the study’s principal investigators and an assistant professor of environmental, reproductive, and women’s health on the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Rise of the Wearables

Nearly half of of Americans put on smartwatches or health trackers, in step with a 2022 survey. Beyond calorie burn and steps, the tech can offer – via phone apps – data on respiration fee, heart rate, blood oxygen degree, and sleep duration.

Academic clinical centers are working with virtual giants like Apple, Google, Samsung, Alphabet, and Amazon, as well as tech startups and nonprofits. The covid-19 pandemic speeded up the trend, as clinical institutions tested wearables to display patients from home. Symptom checkers and outbreak apps helped screen exposure to infection and discover warm spots, and showed how huge records sets could be captured in a regular way.
Trials the use of wearables for records series account for much less than 1% of all trials worldwide. But that wide variety is developing, climbing by several hundred within the beyond few years, in keeping with clinicaltrials.Gov (the National Library of Medicine’s registry of scientific trials).

This fashion is going past the wrist to apply “clever” glasses, jewelry, necklaces, “hearables,” or even garb. And the developing universe of scientific-grade wearables facilitates too: smart patches that tune vital symptoms, blood stress devices, and continuous glucose monitors, which are often doctor-prescribed however also are becoming to be had at shops.

“You can stay everywhere inside the country and participate in research the usage of wearables,” stated Ray Dorsey, MD, a professor of neurology on the University of Rochester Medical Center’s Center for Health Technology in New York. Volunteers previously needed to journey to clinical centers for assessments and updates, which often constrained the scope of research.

Big Tech, Big Studies

In latest years, tech groups like Apple, Samsung, and Google have introduced and refined open-supply structures that allow researchers construct apps and gear that securely seize health records from people the use of wearables.

In 2015, a telephone app, evolved with the aid of Dorsey’s URMC group and partners, used Apple’s ResearchKit in a Parkinson’s disease trial. The researchers enrolled over 2,000 volunteers in an afternoon, unheard-of numbers on the time. Ultimately, the study enrolled over nine,000 humans, who did duties like taking walks to degree gait changes. The published findings helped researchers higher understand the how Parkinson’s signs and symptoms various day to day, Dorsey stated.

In 2017, at the side of Stanford University School of Medicine, the Apple Heart Study enrolled more than four hundred,000 Apple Watch users from all 50 states in just eight months. The take a look at confirmed that smartwatches may want to pick out irregular heart rhythms, like atrial traumatic inflammation. It also paved the manner for the FDA to classify the watch’selectrocardiogram (EKG) app as a scientific tool. Since then, smartwatch EKG apps from Fitbit, Samsung, and Garmin have acquired comparable clearances.

The Apple Women’s Health Study released in 2019 along with other formidable tasks: the Apple Heart and Movement Study, led by means of MacRae at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, at the side of the American Heart Association; and the Apple Hearing Study at the University of Michigan.
The Apple Women’s Health Study faucets into extra of a mixture of people with the aid of race, ethnicity, age, socioeconomic role, and vicinity, as compared to the a good deal smaller reach of in advance research. Data accrued relates to exercise, sleep, and environmental and behavioral factors, and month-to-month surveys capture non-public information the app can’t.

“This is giving us the capability to take into consideration very granular records in our analyses,” stated Huichu Li, PhD, a study co-author and research fellow at Harvard’s School of Public Health.

Among the early effects: The barely longer menstrual cycles that may be as a result of COVID vaccines had been determined to be transient. Speaking greater commonly, abnormal and infrequent intervals had been discovered to be more regularly occurring in Black and Asian people studied, even as menstrual cycles have been longer for Asian, Hispanic, and obese people.

An analysis of over 50,000 humans furnished insights into hyperlinks among atypical periods and fitness situations like polycystic ovary syndrome, endometrial hyperplasia, and cancer.
“Future research will dig deeper into the statistics, searching at at the effect of environmental exposures, behavior, and pressure on menstrual cycles,” Mahalingaiah stated.

Challenges and the Future

The promise of wearables is tempered via demanding situations. Much extra testing is needed to make sure the gadgets offer scientific-grade records. Concerns remain in fitness care approximately privateness and cybersecurity threats, in accordance to investigate from the professional services firm Deloitte.

These new types of research have limits. People should own smartwatches and smartphones, tech this is much less commonplace in below-represented and rural populations, and they ought to have dependable internet access.

But multiplied acceptance of the gadgets – with the aid of customers and health care companies – method the trend is likely to grow.

“I don’t see a global in which this form of research slows down,” said Urvi Shah, a senior supervisor in Deloitte Consulting’s Life Sciences and Health Care Practice.

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