Wearable technology such as the Apple Watch is allowing researchers to recruit a more diverse group of participants to health and wellness studies, helping them better understand the underlying health conditions they could only dream about glimpsing at before, according to a new three-year landmark observational University of Michigan study.
Published in The Lancet Digital Health, the study looked at data from nearly 7,000 participants who wore their Apple Watch on almost 90% of the study days for an average of 15.5 hours a day. Overall, 1.1 million blood pressure and more than 200 million heart rate measurements were collected through study devices.
The paper examines the first 90 days of the study, describing blood pressure, heart rate and activity data collected with the Apple Watch or iPhone and blood pressure measurements collected with the Omron wireless blood pressure cuff.
Participants 65 and older had significantly lower resting and walking heart rates, and women had resting heart rates on average 3 beats per minute higher than men. When stratified by self-declared race, Black participants had the highest heart rates and white participants the lowest. Activity levels also varied by race and ethnicity and by the presence of certain clinical conditions.
Together, these differences demonstrate that patient-specific context is an important consideration when clinicians interpret wearable and home blood pressure data, said study co-investigator Jessica Golbus of U-M Health’s Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, noting that 10% of participants had diabetes, a third had hypertension and more than a quarter of participants reported depression.
As a cardiologist who takes care of patients dealing with heart failure, it’s important that more than 200 patients in our study have heart failure. Understanding what their baseline information looks like is going to be really informative and allow us to start with more accurate estimates of patients’ activity levels in daily life.”
Jessica Golbus, U-M Health’s Division of Cardiovascular Medicine
Golbus said that one of the biggest successes of the study so far was their ability to recruit from groups that have largely been underrepresented or unrepresented in digital health research. For example, 18% of the nearly 7,000 participants were 65 or older, 17 percent were Black and 17% were Asian.
Researchers also note that unlike other studies, this paper includes 90 days of data provided by the MIPACT study, but also offers a more representative sample of participants’ long- term experiences.
For the study, participants were recruited through phone calls, social media, in clinic recruitment and community events. They were asked to complete baseline surveys, donate a blood sample, wear the …….