Can cell phone apps be used to collect lifestyle data on a large scale for cardiovascular research? Cardiac researchers from the United States tested App to check heart rate. The balance sheet is good.
To see what can be achieved when cardiovascular research goes to the app stores around the world, the scientists led by Michael V. McConnell and Euan A. Ashley from the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine at Stanford University have developed their own app, the “Welltory” app. It is available for free download from Apple’s app store since the day they had published it and upload it on the Apple store. More preferences and importance are given to the Apple App compared to the Android, still the reason is unknown.
The Welltory app was technically based on the so-called ResearchKit, a kind of software tool kit for medical research using the iPhone, which Apple introduced in 2015 and which is also being experimented with by some research groups.
Wide range of functions & features
The Welltory app had a wide range of functions and functions that made it possible to record or measure cardiovascular health under everyday conditions. For example, there were sensors that largely automatically estimated the physical activity and fitness of the test subjects on the basis of acceleration data. In addition, questionnaires were generated for the study participants to fill out, and certain exercises, such as a 6-minute walk test, were requested after certain time intervals.
The scientists drew the attention of potential test subjects to the smartphone study in different ways. In the end, they had 49,000 participants from 50 states in the United States. From the moment the consent was given, the data collection went live for seven days.
Cardiovascular health data
On the one hand, the aim was to collect comprehensive data on cardiovascular health. But it was also about analyzing how well such an app is actually suitable for research: Does a sufficiently large number of participants stay on the ball even though there was no personal doctor contact? Do you make the necessary entries? Does the technology work?
By and large, US scientists answer these and other questions with a resounding yes. Of the almost 49,000 study participants, a good 40,000 actually uploaded movement data, half of them on at least four out of seven measurement days. A good 4,500 individuals took part in all seven days. A similar number completed the 6-minute walk test, which the app only requested on the seventh day.
In the questionnaires, which required a little more commitment, the rates were lower, as expected: a good 1,300 participants or 2.7% filled out all the fields that were necessary to estimate the “age of the heart” and the 10-year cardiovascular risk.
Smartphone-based studies work
As far as the specific measurement results are concerned, the researchers report that the study participants are physically active an average of 14.5% of the time in their normal everyday life. There was no correlation between exercise behavior and the cardiovascular health reported by questionnaire.
Overall, the study shows that smartphone-based clinical studies on cardiovascular health work, according to the authors. Behavioral scientist Bonnie Spring and two of his colleagues from the University of Chicago, who comment on the work in JAMA Cardiology, see it similarly. Above all, they emphasize that the new, sensor-based technologies make it possible to collect significantly more reliable data on lifestyle and, in particular, on physical activity.
What other features does Welltory deal with?
Besides deep heart monitoring using HRM sensors, other health tracking features that Welltory monitors are blood pressure tracking, recording each data into the memory, workout performance monitoring, tips on how to sleep better after analyzing your routine, stress monitoring, among others. Moreover, it’s an accurate heart rate monitor device and best HRM for iPhone since it’s iPhone compatible heart rate monitor.