In a recent study, researchers evaluated the usage of WHDs (wearable health devices) by cardiovascular (CVS) disorder patients and those at an increased risk of CVS disorders in the United States (US).
In the present national-level survey-based study, researchers investigated WHD usage by CVS patients and high-risk individuals in the US. They also investigated whether WHD usage was equivalent among demographically diverse indiviudals with differences in terms of sex, age, education, ethnicity and income and whether the study participants were willing to share their health data with healthcare professionals (HCPs).
Health data of 9303 individuals who answered the HINTS (health information national trends survey) questions between 2019 and 2020 were analyzed. Emphasizing on individuals with or at an increased risk of CVS disorders such as hypertension, diabetes mellitus type 2, obesity [elevated body mass index (BMI) values ≥30kg/m2) or those with smoking habits, participants’ responses to the question on WHD usage for tracking health and PA levels in the last year.
Among the study participants, 933 individuals were CVD patients (average age of 69 years and 47% of them were females), and 5,185 individuals were at an elevated CVD risk (average age of 59 years and 58% of them were females). The most frequently worn WHDs were fitness bands and smartwatches. Age, income, and education level were associated with lower WHD usage among CVS patients and high-risk individuals. High-risk individuals showed a lower likelihood of using WHDs.
However, >80% of high-risk individuals who wore WHDs were willing to share their health data tracked by the devices with their HCPs for improved quality of care, irrespective of sex, education, age, income, and ethnicity. The analysis predicted that 34 million high-risk individuals and four million CVS patients in the US used WHDs, translating to 26% and 18% of high-risk individuals and CVS patients, respectively, whereas 29% of all US residents above 18 years of age used WHDs.
Twelve percent of CVS patients aged >65 years used WHDs, although it was predicted that 50% of all CVS patients were above 65 years of age. In comparison, 33% and 17% of CVS patients aged between 18 years and 49 years and between 50 years and 64 years used WHDs, respectively. Twenty-two percent of high-risk individuals were aged >65 years, of which only 14% used WHDs. CVS patients with ≥$50,000 income per year showed a four-fold higher likelihood of WHD use compared to those with <$20,000 income per year. Individuals with post-baccalaureate degrees reported a four-fold greater WHD use compared to those with lower educational status, with minor differences among the demographically diverse individuals in the willingness to share their health records for better CVS management.
Conclusion and Limitation
Overall, the study findings showed that individuals who require WHDs wore them the least and highlighted critical disparities in WHD use in the US. The accessibility and usage inequities, if addressed, could lower the CVS burden, especially among high-risk individuals or those residing in under-resourced community settings.
Dr. Lovedeep Dhingra, M.B.B.S, the study’s lead author and a postdoctoral research fellow in the Yale School of Medicine’s Cardiovascular Data Science (CarDS) Lab in Connecticut, said, “We may be able to use artificial intelligence with health information from wearable devices to help people reduce their risk of heart disease. Given these benefits, it is crucial to understand who is using these devices.” 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.”
The study limitations include analysis of self-reported WHD use data and that only one out of three participants responded to the survey question on WHD usage. A higher RR (response rate) could improve the accuracy of WHD use results among US residents and improve the generalizability of the study findings.