People who need fitness watches wear it the least, says Yale scientist


People at risk of cardiovascular disease are less likely to use wearable health devices, like smartwatches and fitness bands, a study led by an Indian-American scientist has found.

Age, education and income are factors associated with less use of wearable health devices among people with and at risk of cardiovascular disease, said Lovedeep S. Dhingra, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Cardiovascular Data Science (CarDS) Lab at the Yale School of Medicine in Connecticut.

“We were surprised to find that people with cardiovascular disease were notably less likely than people without cardiovascular disease to use wearable devices, which suggests those who are most likely to benefit from these technologies appear to be less likely to use them,” Dhingra said.

Based on the health information of 9,303 adults in the US, it was found that an estimated 3.6 million people with cardiovascular disease and 34.4 million people at risk of cardiovascular disease in the US used wearables.

This translates to only 18 per cent of all people with cardiovascular disease, and 26 per cent of all people at risk of cardiovascular disease.

Only 12 per cent of people with cardiovascular disease older than 65 years used wearable devices, even though it is estimated half of all people with cardiovascular disease are older than age 65, said the study, which will be presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2022 in November.

In comparison, 17 per cent of people with cardiovascular disease aged 50 to 64 years reported using wearables, and 33 per cent of those in the 18 to 49-year age group with diagnosed cardiovascular disease used wearables.

People with cardiovascular disease with an annual household income of $50,000 or more were four times more likely to use wearables than those with annual household incomes less than $20,000, Dhingra and his colleagues found.

In addition, education beyond a college degree (post baccalaureate degree) was associated with 3.6-fold higher wearable use than those who received a lower education level.

“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,” Dhingra, said.

Wearable devices are worn on or close to the body that monitor and track health or physical activity. These electronic devices may help manage cardiovascular health with features like physical activity monitoring, heart-rate tracking, heart electrical activity tracing, etc.

The most common wearable devices included in the study were smartwatches and fitness bands.

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