The Apple Watch can detect diabetes in previously diagnosed individuals with up to an 85 percent accuracy rate, according to the results of yet another clinical study related to the wearable.
The study, conducted by health firm Cardiogram and the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), used data from 14,000 Apple Watch users. Researchers found that they could accurately detect diabetes in 462 of the participants by using the Apple Watch’s built-in heart rate sensor.
Diabetes is already a huge problem in the U.S., and it’s only getting larger. According to the Center for Disease Control, more than 100 million U.S. adults are living with pre-diabetes or diabetes — and many of them go undiagnosed.
Luckily, early detection of diabetes can help in cutting down the severity of other complications associated with the disease.
While there have been other attempts to create diabetes-detecting hardware that rely on glucose-sensing, Cardiogram’s latest study seems to corroborate previous findings that indicate that standard heart rate sensors can identify the disease.
In 2015, the Framingham Heart Study found that a person’s resting heart rate and heart rate variability could be used to reliably predict diabetes and hypertension. In fact, this was one of the motivating factors that moved Cardiogram to conduct its own diabetes study with the Apple Watch.
Cardiogram’s co-founders, Brandon Ballinger and Johnson Hsieh, still caution that those participants in the study had already been diagnosed with diabetes or pre-diabetes. As such, Cardiogram insists that users wait for a diagnosis from their doctors — rather than relying on an Apple Watch to let them know.
Still, the results of the study are promising, and they represent the first large-scale clinical initiative showing that ordinary heart rate sensors can be effective in diabetes detection.
The study was only a subset of the larger DeepHeart program, which has used Cardiogram’s proprietary deep-learning algorithms to analyze and parse data collected via Apple Watch sensors.
In November of last year, Cardiogram announced that the Apple Watch could accurately detect hypertension and sleep apnea. Previously, the health data firm found that the device could also detect abnormal heart rhythms with a 97 percent accuracy.
The health analysis firm has since announced that it’s looking at a number of other diseases to detect through commercial wearables and its own algorithms.
The flagship Apple wearable has been used in a variety of studies, and in some cases, the Apple Watch has even helped to save lives.
Together with initiatives like ResearchKit, CareKit, and the iOS Health app, Apple is only becoming more focused on healthcare. Just recently, the company has partnered with Stanford to launch its first-ever Apple Heart Study.