Increased respiratory rate could be a precursor to COVID-19
CQUniversity has partnered with human performance company WHOOP and will collaborate with Cleveland Clinic in Ohio to investigate a potential connection between changes in respiratory rate and COVID-19 symptoms.
The University plans to conduct a study using 24/7 physiological data, collected via the wrist-worn WHOOP Strap 3.0, from hundreds of self-identified COVID-19 cases among WHOOP members, to better understand the current health crisis.
CQUni's Head of Sleep & Circadian Physiology Research, Professor Greg Roach says the proposed research collaboration between WHOOP and CQUniversity's Appleton Institute in Adelaide is a unique opportunity to investigate the impact of a global pandemic on the health of WHOOP users.
"By collating contextual factors collected in the WHOOP Journal with physiological trends in raw data, we may be able to provide insights into the health implications before, during and after suspected cases of COVID-19," Professor Roach says.
WHOOP Founder & CEO Will Ahmed says his company believes that a noticeable increase in respiratory rate is a measurable precursor of COVID-19 symptoms, "based on individual cases that we have seen in our data".
"WHOOP data may be able to help identify the coronavirus during the incubation period before someone feels sick," Mr Ahmed says.
On 9 March, WHOOP launched an interactive feature – the WHOOP Journal – that allows members to track a variety of daily behaviors against their physiological data to make healthier lifestyle choices with real-time feedback on their bodies.
That same week, WHOOP included COVID-19 as an option within the WHOOP Journal for members to monitor their symptoms. Members have the ability to complete surveys and daily condition check-ins as well as to opt-in to participate in studies like this one.
Earlier this year, WHOOP became the first wrist-worn wearable device to validate the accuracy of its respiratory rate during sleep in a third-party study conducted by The University of Arizona and published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.
"Through extensive testing, we found that WHOOP is the gold-standard, non-invasive respiratory rate monitor with measurement accuracy within one breath per minute of perfect," said Dr Sairam Parthasarathy, professor of medicine at the UArizona College of Medicine – Tucson and director of the Center for Sleep and Circadian Sciences.
"An increase in respiratory rate has been shown to be an early warning sign in the development of both pulmonary and non-pulmonary disease."
The respiratory rate statistic that WHOOP provides to members rarely deviates from baseline, but it may fluctuate due to environmental shifts like altitude or physiological factors like a lower-respiratory tract infection. Unlike upper-respiratory infections like the flu or the common cold which are less likely to present changes in respiratory rate, COVID-19 is a lower-respiratory infection, so noticing even the slightest change can be useful.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and in conjunction with the proposed CQUniversity study, WHOOP will release a new update to its mobile apps which will make it easier for members to monitor and interpret their respiratory rate every morning.
Learn about this update and more from Emily Capodilupo, WHOOP Vice President of Data Science and Research, at whoop.com/the-locker. WHOOP accurately tracks key measurements like heart rate variability, resting heart rate, and sleep staging to help members optimise their performance and overall well-being, but respiratory rate may be the most significant metric to track for those concerned about COVID-19.