Changes in autonomic nervous system function, characterized by heart rate variability (HRV), have been associated with and observed prior to the clinical identification of infection. We performed an evaluation of this metric collected by wearable devices, to identify and predict Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and its related symptoms.
Health care workers in the Mount Sinai Health System were prospectively followed in an ongoing observational study using the custom Warrior Watch Study App which was downloaded to their smartphones. Participants wore an Apple Watch for the duration of the study measuring HRV throughout the follow up period. Survey’s assessing infection and symptom related questions were obtained daily.
Using a mixed-effect COSINOR model the mean amplitude of the circadian pattern of the standard deviation of the interbeat interval of normal sinus beats (SDNN), a HRV metric, differed between subjects with and without COVID-19 (p=0.006). The mean amplitude of this circadian pattern differed between individuals during the 7 days before and the 7 days after a COVID-19 diagnosis compared to this metric during uninfected time periods (p=0.01). Significant changes in the mean MESOR and amplitude of the circadian pattern of the SDNN was observed between the first day of reporting a COVID-19 related symptom compared to all other symptom free days (p=0.01).
Longitudinally collected HRV metrics from a commonly worn commercial wearable device (Apple Watch) can identify the diagnosis of COVID-19 and COVID-19 related symptoms. Prior to the diagnosis of COVID-19 by nasal PCR, significant changes in HRV were observed demonstrating its predictive ability to identify COVID-19 infection.