Step trackers can help identify disease progression and mortality.
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Wearable devices give patients more control over their health data and allow providers to monitor the progression of their patients more easily.
And wrist-worn step trackers can estimate exercise capacity and determine the health status of patients, rather than the traditional six-minute walk distance test, researchers from Intermountain Healthcare in Salt Lake City said at European Respiratory Society International Congress 2019.
“Being able to distill step counts into this clinically important metric is a first step in being able to think about how to use step counters in order to better manage health and detect deterioration earlier,” said lead investigator Denitza Blagev, M.D., a pulmonary and critical care physician at Intermountain Healthcare.
Researchers conducted a three-month trial with 52 patients, including adults with a history of respiratory problems during periods of elevated air pollution.
The research team found that they could effectively estimate a patient’s six-minute walk distance test results using the counters instead of having patients go into a clinical setting.
The six-minute walk distance test is a traditional measure used to assess exercise capacity. Patients walk for six minutes and based on how much distance they cover, physicians can predict outcomes and mortality for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cardiovascular diseases.
“Normally, the (six-minute walk distance) test is done every few months or once a year,” said Blagev. “Now, we may be able to measure patients on a regular basis and know if we need to intervene if their estimated (six-minute walk distance) by step count changes.”
Frequent measurements could lead to more information about the disease progression, which Blagev said is a “significant improvement and enhanced convenience” for patients. Not to mention, wearables can be a more cost-effective option, she added.
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