In a recent study that will soon be presented at American Heart Association (AHA) Scientific Meeting 2022*researchers evaluated the use of wearable health devices (WHDs) by patients with cardiovascular disease (CVS) and patients at increased risk of CVS disease in the United States (US).
WHDs are automated devices worn on or near the human body to measure and monitor physical activity (PA) and health. The devices could improve CVS disease management through improved self-monitoring with built-in features such as heart rate (HR) monitoring, cardiac electrical activity monitoring, and PA measurement.
People using WHD can increase their PA levels and their health can be objectively monitored and assessed during doctor’s consultations to tailor prescriptions to individual health and improve the standard of care provided to patients.
In this national study, researchers examined the use of WHD by CVS patients and high-risk individuals in the US. They also examined whether WHD use was equivalent among demographically diverse individuals with differences in gender, age, education, ethnicity, and income, and whether study participants were willing to share their health data with healthcare professionals (HCPs).
The health data of 9,303 individuals who answered the HINTS (health information national trends survey) questions between 2019 and 2020 were analyzed. Emphasis on individuals with or at increased risk of CVS disorders such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes mellitus, obesity [elevated body mass index (BMI) values ≥30kg/m2) or those with smoking habits, participants’ responses to the question on WHD usage for tracking health and PA levels in the last year.
Among the study participants, 933 individuals were CVD patients (average age of 69 years and 47% of them were females), and 5,185 individuals were at an elevated CVD risk (average age of 59 years and 58% of them were females). The most frequently worn WHDs were fitness bands and smartwatches. Age, income, and education level were associated with lower WHD usage among CVS patients and high-risk individuals. High-risk individuals showed a lower likelihood of using WHDs.
However, >80% of high-risk individuals who wore WHDs were willing to share their health data tracked by the devices with their HCPs for improved quality of care, irrespective of sex, education, age, income, and ethnicity. The analysis predicted that 34 million high-risk individuals and four million CVS patients in the US used WHDs, translating to 26% and 18% of high-risk individuals and CVS patients, respectively, whereas 29% of all US residents above 18 years of age used WHDs.
Twelve percent of CVS patients aged >65 years used WHDs, although it was predicted that 50% of all CVS patients were above 65 years of age. In comparison, 33% and 17% of CVS patients aged between 18 years and 49 years and between 50 years and 64 years used WHDs, respectively. Twenty-two percent of high-risk individuals were aged >65 years, of which only 14% used WHDs. CVS patients with ≥$50,000 income per year showed a four-fold higher likelihood of WHD use compared to those with <$20,000 income per year. Individuals with post-baccalaureate degrees reported a four-fold greater WHD use compared to those with lower educational status, with minor differences among the demographically diverse individuals in the willingness to share their health records for better CVS management.
Overall, the study findings showed that individuals who require WHDs wore them the least and highlighted critical disparities in WHD use in the US. The accessibility and usage inequities, if addressed, could lower the CVS burden, especially among high-risk individuals or those residing in under-resourced community settings.
Dr. Lovedeep Dhingra, M.B.B.S, the study’s lead author and a postdoctoral research fellow in the Yale School of Medicine’s Cardiovascular Data Science (CarDS) Lab in Connecticut, said, “We may be able to use artificial intelligence with health information from wearable devices to help people reduce their risk of heart disease. Given these benefits, it is crucial to understand who is using these devices.” We need to ensure that wearable devices reach the people who need them most, by improving equitable access and promoting wearables as health devices to help improve health and decrease health disparities.”
The study limitations include analysis of self-reported WHD use data and that only one out of three participants responded to the survey question on WHD usage. A higher RR (response rate) could improve the accuracy of WHD use results among US residents and improve the generalizability of the study findings.
Statements and conclusions of studies that are presented at the American Heart Association’s scientific meetings are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect the Association’s policy or position. The Association makes no representation or guarantee as to their accuracy or reliability. Abstracts presented at the Association’s scientific meetings are not peer-reviewed, rather, they are curated by independent review panels and are considered based on the potential to add to the diversity of scientific issues and views discussed at the meeting. The findings are considered preliminary until published as a full manuscript in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.
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