Consumer wearables, which track simple metrics such as step counts and heart rates, have the potential to provide actionable health data, according to Stanford University researchers.
Their study aimed to assess how biometrics change in individuals over time and identify which wearable sensors offered enough data to be used in diagnosis. Drawing data from 60 volunteers, the researchers combined sensor measurements with genomics and lab results to generate 1.7 billion measurements, including skin temperatures, sleep patterns, activity, and radiation exposure.
The data, which enabled researchers to determine individuals' health baseline, demonstrated various biometric monitoring possibilities; for example, data from the study's insulin-resistant participants indicates that certain metrics could be used to predict people who may be insulin-resistant. Measurements of resting heart rate may infer C-reactive protein (CRP) levels, which are linked to inflammation from infections and immune dysfunction.
In several cases, the sensor data suggesting inflammation were validated with blood draws showing high CRP levels.
Some commercially-available sensors are not yet sophisticated enough to be used as diagnostic aids, but researchers believe wearables could help to improve care, particularly in less developed areas with fewer medical resources.
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