Only 18% of US adults with cardiovascular disease (CVD) and 26% of adults at risk for CVD use wearable health devices.
Individuals who need to use wearable health devices such as smart watches may actually be using them the least, according to preliminary research to be presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2022.
Specifically, an estimated 3.6 million Americans with cardiovascular disease (CVD) and 34.4 million Americans at risk of CVD used wearables, reflecting only 18% of all people with CVD, and 26% of all people at risk for CVD.
In comparison, 29% of the total US adult population used wearable devices.
These findings are based off an analysis of the health information of respondents of the Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS), which was conducted between 2019 and 2020. A total of 9303 US adults answered the HINTS survey. According to the study authors, the participant sample is nationally representative despite its relatively small size numerically.
The analysis showed that individuals at risk for CVD were less likely to use wearable devices.
“Even though the survey did not ask participants about specific types of wearable devices, examples of wearable devices were included to help respondents answer the question about whether or not they had used a wearable device in the previous 12 months,” said Lovedeep S. Dhingra, MBBS, postdoctoral associate in the Cardiovascular Data Science Lab at the Yale School of Medicine and lead author of the study. “The most common wearable devices included smart watches and fitness bands at the time of the survey, though the category continues to expand to include other devices.”
Specifically, only 12% of adults aged older than 65 with CVD used wearable health devices, despite half of all people with CVD being in this age group. Meanwhile, 17% of adults with CVD aged between 50 and 64 said they use wearable devices, and 33% of adults with CVD aged between 18 and 49 reported using them.
Additionally, while 22% of people at risk of heart disease are aged 65 and older, only 14% of people in this age group are actually using these devices.
According to the authors, this indicates an association between older age and less use of wearable devices among people with and at risk of CVD.
They also found higher education level and income were linked to wearable device use.
Individuals with CVD with an annual household income of $50,000 or more were 4 times more likely to use wearables compared with individuals with annual incomes of less than $20,000. Additionally, individuals with an education beyond a bachelor’s degree were 3.6 times more likely to use a wearable compared with individuals with a lower education level in relation.
The majority (80%) of participants at risk of CVD also said they were willing to share health information collected by a wearable device to improve their health care, with minor variations in willingness across different subgroups based on age, sex, race and ethnicity, education level, and income.
“We were surprised to find that people with cardiovascular disease were notably less likely than people without cardiovascular disease to use wearable devices, which suggests those who are most likely to benefit from these technologies appear to be less likely to use them,” said Dhingra. “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.”