Your wearable might be an early warning system for viral illness

A health study conducted by Scripps Research

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When your heart beats faster than usual, it can mean that you’re coming down with a cold, flu, coronavirus, or other viral infection. That’s the conclusion of recent medical research.

So wearable devices that measure your resting heart rate—made by Apple, Fitbit, Garmin, and others—might help scientists spot viral outbreaks, and also give you more insight into your own health.

At Scripps Research, we’ve designed DETECT (Digital Engagement & Tracking for Early Control & Treatment), a study that will monitor your heart rate and allow you to record symptoms like fever or coughing.

Spot viral outbreaks

As a participant in our DETECT health study, you’ll be able to track your resting heart rate, and anonymously share this information with scientists at Scripps Research.

Our goal is to identify areas with viral outbreaks quickly. We hope that an early warning might someday give public health officials more time to take action, and for you to take better care of yourself and your loved ones.

We also hope to develop more individualized approaches to health care. Instead of comparing your heart rate (or other vital signs) to the “average,” we would like to learn what’s normal for you. Eventually, that might help us to better predict when you’re getting sick.


If you have a wearable device that tracks your heart rate, please consider joining DETECT. Simply install our app, MyDataHelps™, and help out with scientific research that has the potential to improve the health of people everywhere.

Download MyDataHelps™ to Join DETECT