Apple Watch detects diabetes with 85% accuracy

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Apple Watch's heart rate monitor is set to get a big upgrade.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Figuring out if you have diabetes could soon be as easy as strapping on an Apple Watch.

A new study from Cardiogram shows that by using heart rate monitors on wearables like the Apple Watch, neural networks can now detect whether the wearer shows early signs of diabetes with astonishing accuracy.

Medical researchers have been on a quest to find a method for non-invasive glucose tracking in diabetics for decades. We’re not quite at that point yet, but the study’s recent finds are an encouraging sign to diabetics. More than 100 million adults in the United States live with diabetes or prediabetes. About one in four of those with diabetes don’t realize they have it.

Apple Watch diabetes detection with light

Cardiogram’s findings came as part of its larger DeepHeart study with the University of California, San Francisco. Using data from 14,000 Apple Watch users, the team used its algorithms to detect that 462 people in the study had diabetes. That meant an 85 percent accuracy rating.

The method can be used with other wearables, too, like Android Wear devices, Garmin watches and Fitbits with heart-rate monitors. By detecting diabetes and prediabetes earlier, those affected would be able to get treatment sooner and potentially live healthier lives.

Cardiogram’s founders say they will continue to look into a other diseases to detect through heart rate sensors. However, the company cautions that those tested and diagnosed were already known to have diabetes.

Also, Apple Watch diabetes detection is just a study at this point. If you think you might have diabetes, go see a doctor instead of trusting your Apple Watch.