Madrid: Wearable devices like Fitbits and Apple Watches can be used to estimate exercise capacity and determine the health status of patients, says a new study. Determining how far patients with pulmonary disease can walk in six minutes has long been an effective clinical tool to help physicians determine their exercise capacity, as well as to aid in predicting health outcomes and mortality. Devices like Fitbits and Apple Watches can replace the standardised six-minute walk distance test, which is conducted in a clinical setting.
“For patients, this means we can track their progress more frequently in a manner that's less expensive and more convenient than current standardised testing,” said lead investigator of the study Denitza Blagev from Intermountain Healthcare in the US. The six-minute walk distance is an important, objective standard used to assess exercise capacity. Patients walk for six minutes and, then based on how many metres they cover in that time, physicians can predict outcomes and mortality for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cardiovascular diseases.
"Normally, the 6WMD (six-minute walk distance) test is done every few months or once a year. Now, we may be able to measure patients on a regular basis and know if we need to intervene if their estimated 6WMD by step count changes," said Blagev. "Instead of having one measurement every few months, you could have weekly measurements, and have information at disease progression at frequent intervals.