Smart apps and devices help us to monitor health remotely, even at home, always remaining in contact with the doctor. Today the smartwatch does even more: in a pilot study, in fact, the wearable device made it possible to monitor the response of our body immediately after the anti Covid-19 vaccine.
The research, conducted by Scripps Research Translational Institute in California, he identified changes in some physiological parameters that emerged in the days following vaccination, including an increase in heart rate in sleep. In the future, based on other insights, these signals could become a light of how effectively we respond to vaccines. The results are published on Npj Digital Medicinejournal of the Nature group.
The Detect app
The researchers carried out an “observational” study, in which we merely observe a phenomenon without actively intervening in the research. The authors examined the data of more than 5,600 volunteers who took part in the Detect project, associated with the app of the same name. Already in 2020 the smartwatch and the app had helped to recognize early signs of the presence of Covid-19. Today’s survey assessed heart rate, sleep and physical activity in the two weeks before and after administration.
The increase in heart rate
The results indicate that there are noteworthy changes especially in the heartbeat. This increases in the day after injection, peaking on the second day, and then falls back to normal on the fourth (in the case of the first dose) and sixth (second dose) days. “We found a significant increase in heart rate during rest, after the second dose, in 47% of the participants,” he points out. Giorgio Querwho coordinated the study.
“An increase of variable magnitude was however observed in more than 70% of the participants”. The effect was more pronounced after the vaccine booster from Moderna, compared to that of Pfizer-BioNTech. In the case of the first dose, the phenomenon was more pronounced in those who had had a previous Covid-19 infection. In addition, after the second dose there is a significant average increase in night rest and a decrease in physical activity.
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Evaluate the response to the vaccine
The presence of significant heart rate growth after the vaccine – especially for those who had previously infected – is in line with the hypothesis of an increased immune response, the authors write. Obviously, for now, caution is a must: further investigations will also be needed to evaluate the weight of other factors, such as the psycho-physical stress associated with the vaccination itself.
“We are aware of the presence of this element, as confirmed by recent evidence”, clarifies Quer. “In this work we have observed the phenomenon, quantifying some physiological effects potentially linked to the immune response”, or rather how effectively we react. However, to prove that this link is really present it will be necessary to conduct another type of research, adds the expert, a differently structured (non-observational) clinical study. This is a more complex operation that the group hopes to be able to carry out in the near future.
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Not just Covid
In general, the approach could also be useful for analyzing other conditions or diseases, as the author explains, with other systems currently under study. “In addition to the field of infectious diseases”, Quer says, “we are also using smartwatches and apps in the nutritional field, measuring individual physiological responses to different foods, in diabetic and non-diabetic patients”.
At Scripps Research there is also a similar system dedicated to health during pregnancy. “Furthermore – concludes Quer – we have another platform, again based on wireless sensors, to monitor sleep, and similar projects to study cardiovascular health“. In short, apps, smart wearable devices and predictive algorithms will be the future of medicine, for the management of various diseases, always alongside the doctor’s watchful eye.