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Apple Watch can accurately assess weakness, Stanford study finds



Apple Watch can accurately determine the user’s “weakness”, according to findings from a recently published study from Stanford University (via MyHealthyApple).

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Weakness can be determined using a six-minute walking test (6MWT), and the calculation is a general standard used to evaluate the patient’s functional mobility and training capacity. Higher scores indicate “healthier cardiovascular, respiratory, and neuromuscular function,” according to Apple.

Conducted by Stanford University researchers and funded by Apple, the study gave 110 patients with veteran cases of cardiovascular disease an iPhone 7 and Apple Watch Series 3. Patients performed regular six-minute walk tests at home, which were then compared to their standard in-clinic 6MWT performance .

The study found that an Apple Watch was able to accurately assess weakness with a sensitivity of 90 percent and specificity of 85 percent when monitored in a clinical setting. When Apple Watch was rated in an uncontrolled setting at home, it could accurately assess weakness with a sensitivity of 83 percent and a specificity of 60 percent.

The results indicate that passive activity data collected by the Apple Watch is an accurate predictor of 6MWT performance in the clinic.

In this longitudinal observational study, passive activity data acquired by an ‌iPhone‌ and Apple Watch was an accurate predictor of 6MWT performance in the clinic. This finding suggests that weakness and functional capacity can be monitored and evaluated externally in patients with cardiovascular disease, enabling safer and higher resolution monitoring of patients.

While the study used a specially developed app called “VascTrac” to collect 6MWT data along with Apple Watch’s passively collected activity data, Apple has since included a series of new mobility-related health measurements in watchOS 7, including 6MWT. Preliminary data from studies like this are likely to encourage Apple to add the calculations to ‌watchOS 7‌.

The research may encourage healthcare professionals to offer home assessment of functional capacity in patients with cardiovascular disease using an Apple Watch.


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