It's been pioneering research into preventing strokes and flagging up heart issues, but Apple is now turning its attention to detecting if your body is responding to the 'flu-like symptoms' we associate with the novel coronavirus. According to Apple Insider, a new Cardiogram app update will give you one more reason to wear your Apple Watch.
Highlighting how differently the body and heart functions when it is fighting off infections such as COVID-19, the Cardiogram app can be used to monitor BPM and potentially signal heart rate changes. Unexplained changes in heart rate can be an early indication of sickness, so the new Sleeping BPM feature is designed to make users aware of this vital which, as we've highlighted in the past, can be a key metric in long-term health monitoring when consistently tracked.
Apple Insider is keen to emphasize that 'Sleeping BPM isn't intended to diagnose the flu or COVID-19, and shouldn't be used as a replacement for medical diagnostic tests and tools. There are also unrelated conditions or routine events that can cause an elevated heart rate.' In other words, if your body is responding to coronavirus, this will often be reflected in heart rate. Crucially, though, the Apple Watch can not tell you if you have any illness.
Can the Apple Watch really help you detect COVID-19 symptoms?
We recently spoke to Dr. Richard Zane, Chief Innovation Officer of UCHealth, who told us that he was sceptical about the potential role even the best smartwatches can play in the medical sphere. He pressed the question, "are these medical-grade devices? Eventually, it’s easy to see that they all will be, but for now, do these devices report results with the same fidelity as devices with which doctors are used to and confident are right?"
Obviously, if you're scared you may be developing flu-like or coronavirus symptoms, it won't take the best fitness tracker to tell you. Symptoms to watch out for include fever, shortness of breath and a dry cough, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. You can find its coronavirus self-checker here.
However, healthcare professionals have warned that you may be a carrier for COVID-19 even if you don't show symptoms. What's more, you could be carrying the virus for up to two weeks before showing symptoms. So even though the Apple Watch isn't a medical grade device, it can't hurt to tune into your health and monitor your heart rate at times like these.
Apple isn't the only company to respond to coronavirus concerns. Fitbit has announced that you can get a free 90-day trial of its online fitness classes to help you stay fit and healthy, even when you're self-isolating. If you're stranded at home for the foreseeable future, consider investing in these home exercise essentials.