Apple Watch and Fitbit wearables could help detect 'long COVID’ symptoms

New research suggests the importance of wearables in detecting long-term COVID-19 symptoms

Apple Watch OS8
(Image credit: Apple)

New research suggests that wearables like the Apple Watch and the Fitbit could help track data from patients who are recovering from the long-term side effects of COVID-19.

Despite still being in its infancy, the early research suggests that data from devices like the Fitbit or Apple Watch could be useful in tracking the physiological and behavioral changes that can last weeks or months after a coronavirus diagnosis.

The research was released yesterday (July 8) in the JAMA Network Open journal and was first reported by the New York Times. By coupling data from the Apple Watch and Fitbit with self-reported symptoms, researchers discovered that they could more accurately detect COVID-19 cases than just focusing on the symptoms. 

The findings have emerged from the Digital Engagement and Tracking for Early Control and Treatment (DETECT) trial. Identifying cases of disease with the help of consumer wearables could give doctors and researchers a significant edge in helping to tackle the more misunderstood, but no less damaging longer-term effects of COVID-19. 

For example, when analyzing heart rate data from the wearables in the study, "there was a much larger change in resting heart rate for individuals who had Covid compared to other viral infections," said Jennifer Radin, an epidemiologist at Scripps. 

Diagnostic wearables

Following on from this, the trial's researchers plan to then use the wearables' data to help them dig deeper into so-called ‘long COVID’, hoping to unravel the medical mysteries that surround more complex cases of the coronavirus that continue for weeks or months beyond the initial illness for select groups of sufferers.

The best fitness tracker devices are popular amongst a range of demographics, so it would be particularly useful to medical professionals if they do end up being able to use the best Apple Watch and best Fitbit devices to glean build better approaches to help them combat the more lasting symptoms of COVID-19, even after the initial outbreak of the disease has gone.

Luke Wilson
Luke Wilson

Luke covers all things tech at T3. Disc golf enthusiast, keen jogger, and fond of all things outdoors (when not indoors messing around with gadgets)