Wearable devices could predict frailty risk in older people

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Wearable devices have become valuable tools for monitoring various aspects of our health.

A recent study by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital highlights the potential of these devices in predicting health complications related to frailty in older adults.

Frailty is a common condition in older people and early detection can significantly impact the quality of life of these people.

Understanding frailty and circadian rhythms

Frailty refers to the age-related decline in physiological function that makes older adults more susceptible to health problems.

Disturbances in the circadian rest-activity rhythm, the daily patterns of rest and activity, have already been linked to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Aging itself can alter these patterns, as older people often prefer earlier daily routines compared to younger adults.

Using wearable devices for long-term health monitoring

The study involved the use of wearable devices to monitor circadian rest-activity rhythms in a cohort of 1,022 older adults with an average age of 81 years.

These participants were part of the Rush Memory and Aging Project and were followed for up to 16 years. The researchers examined various aspects of resting activity patterns, including their amplitude, stability and variability.

Prediction of frailty risk

Over an average follow-up period of more than six and a half years, 357 participants developed frailty. The study found a significant association between disrupted or inconsistent rest activity patterns and an increased risk of developing frailty.

These disorders were also associated with faster progression of frailty symptoms, including a decrease in grip strength, reduced body mass index, and increased fatigue.

Importantly, these associations held regardless of age, gender, sleep duration, sleep quality, and cardiovascular health.

Exploring the mechanisms behind frailty

The study’s results suggest a possible overlap in the mechanisms behind frailty and cognitive impairment, as circadian disruption has previously been linked to sleep disturbances, altered metabolism and neuronal loss.

Although this research provides valuable insights, it is important to note that the study focused on an older population with an average age of over 80 years.

Additionally, circadian patterns can be influenced by seasonal variations and environmental factors, and wearable devices may not always accurately interpret sleep-wake cycles.

Early detection and intervention

The use of wearable technologies such as smartwatches and activity trackers holds promise for early detection of frailty risks in older adults.

By monitoring the circadian rest-activity rhythm and combining this data with other clinical measures, healthcare professionals may be able to intervene early to promote healthy aging in vulnerable populations.

Further research is needed to better understand the causal relationship between circadian disruptions and frailty and to refine the use of wearable devices in healthcare.

If you are interested in Parkinson’s disease, please read studies about it Vitamin E, which may help prevent Parkinson’s diseaseAnd Vitamin D could benefit people with Parkinson’s disease.

For more information about brain health, see recent studies on new ways to treat Parkinson’s disease and the results showing that COVID-19 may be linked to Parkinson’s disease.

The research results can be found in nature communication.

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Luke Plunkett

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