The Apple Watch continues to play a crucial role in medical research studies around the world. This week, the University of Michigan Health has published early results from what it calls a “landmark, three-year observational study” that it first started in 2018 in collaboration with Apple.
As detailed in a new blog post from the University of Michigan Health, the goal of the study is to “enroll a diverse set of participants across a range of ages, races, ethnicities, and underlying health conditions” and to provide insight into the baseline health status of a representative group of thousands of people.
Jessica Golbus, M.D., serves as a co-investigator of the study and touts that one of the “biggest successes” of the study was its ability to “recruit from groups that have largely been underrepresented or unrepresented in digital health research.” According to the data, 18% of the more than 6,700 participants were 65 or older, 17% were Black, and 17% were Asian.
The goal of the study was to “describe and compare key wearable signals (ie, heart rate, step count, and home blood pressure measurements) across age, sex, race, ethnicity, and clinical phenotypes.”
More details on the study:
Participants wore their Apple Watch on almost 90 percent of the study days for an average of 15.5 hours a day. Overall, more than 200 million heart rate measurements were collected with Apple Watch and 1.1 million blood pressure readings with the Omron 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.
The full results of the study have not yet been published, but the preliminary insights can be found in the The Lancet Digital Health journal.