Apple Watches Help Predict IBD Flares in Small Study

People with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) may be able to get an early warning sign of an oncoming flare from their smartwatch, a new study suggests.

For the study, researchers asked 125 people with one of two types of IBD — ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease — to complete daily surveys about their symptoms and wear an Apple Watch to measure their heart rate. Because some previous studies have linked increased heart rate variability to IBD flares, scientists wanted to see if the Watch could detect these changes and predict flares.

On the basis of patient-reported symptoms, heart rate variability detected by the Watch was higher when people were experiencing symptomatic flares and increased inflammation, according to preliminary study findings presented at the Crohn’s and Colitis Congress 2023 in Denver.

“Currently IBD flares can be difficult to predict and identify early,” says the lead study author, Robert Hirten, MD, a gastroenterologist and an associate professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.

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