Wearing Your Heart On Your Sleeve

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Wearable devices produced by the likes of Fitbit and Garmin have been making ever-increasing inroads into all aspects of our lives, and more particularly, into our ability to monitor our own health.

Not only can wearables collect biometric data on the functioning of our heart, brain and muscles but they allow for the amalgamation of data to develop AI algorithms to provide deeper insight into health data.

This functionality can prove hugely beneficial in identifying potential obstructive sleep apneoa (OSA) in a wearer, particularly with Fitbit’s recent introduction of Sp02 to estimate oxygen variation during sleep. In devices with this function activated, blood oxygen levels can be monitored using a new graph in the app. Poor results may alert wearers of the need to further investigate potential sleep apnoea by undergoing a clinical sleep study.

CRS has also been actively pursuing advancements in this area that will help people better understand their sleep patterns and recognize when they may have issues that can severely compromise their health. The company has been working closely with ResApp Health to develop a smartphone app that will reliably identify mild, moderate and severe obstructive sleep apnoea. Through collection of study data, machine learning algorithms have been able to identify OSA from overnight breathing and snoring sounds.

Dr Philip Currie, principal investigator said “This very large study, which recruited over 2,000 patients, conducted both in the sleep laboratory and at home has developed and validated a simple and accurate screening tool using only a smartphone in the bedroom. The clinical need is great and growing and it remains unaddressed by today’s methods such as questionnaires and Type IV sleep testing devices.”

While studies show that even now 80% of people with sleep apnoea remain undiagnosed, affecting over 30% of men and almost 20% of women, these technologies offer an accessible path to diagnosis and treatment. Prevalence increases with age and obesity.

Undiagnosed OSA has a serious impact across the cardiac, metabolic, endocrine and mental health of the population, leading to a large impact on the health system. It’s estimated that untreated OSA costs the Australian economy over $7 billion per year.

These technologies represent an important step in addressing an acute need.