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leeuk321

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jul 21, 2018
168
141
Hey all, I was just wondering if any Apple Watch 6 owners out there have asthma, and if so - has the series 6 given any benefit over previous versions? I guess the blood oxygen monitoring is the obvious upgrade over the 5, which perhaps could be useful. I'm not expecting the 6 to be a miracle device for asthma sufferers, but curious if the blood oxygen monitoring (together with other biometrics) has given any help at all?

For instance, if you went out in the cold, night air and your blood oxygen level dropped 2%, that could be relevant for a doctor to monitor your condition and provide a different treatment / self-care plan. I've searched online, but all I can find is that Apple are "doing studies". Any first-hand experience would be amazing, if anyone cares to share?

Thanks
 

BrettDS

macrumors 65816
Nov 14, 2012
1,489
634
Orlando
I don’t have asthma, but I did sleep at a holiday inn last night. I don’t think the technology is quite there yet.

The Apple Watch tries to take a blood ox reading every 30 minutes, but it seems that it is very sensitive in terms of watch position and band tightness and such. In my experience I will only get a couple of readings during the day when everything lines up perfectly for the reading to happen. For example, yesterday I got one successful automatic reading at 10:30 in the morning and the next successful reading wasn’t until 5:30pm, even though it tries every 30 minutes and I have a desk job, so I really wasn’t being super active during the day.

Additionally I don’t think the accuracy is there for it to even be able to tell if your blood ox level dropped by 2%. In my case I routinely get readings between 94% and 100% and occasionally I’ll even get a reading in the low 90’s or even in the 80’s. I don’t believe for a minute that my blood ox level is that low, I think it’s just a bad reading.

I suspect that the technology will improve over time and maybe in a couple of years it will be there and be useful for things like asthma or sleep apnea, but I think the technology really needs to mature before then.

The only thing that I think could potentially be useful for an asthma sufferer is that you can manually take a reading if you suspect that there is a problem. A manual reading is more likely to be successful because you can ensure that your wrist is motionless and the watch is in the right position and tight enough, but even with manual readings I’ve seen a lot of variation even from one reading to the next if I do several in a row.
 

deeddawg

macrumors G5
Jun 14, 2010
12,258
6,411
US
Looking at my data over the past four days (rxd watch on Monday), my variation through the day is a whole lot more than 2%.

I think the relevant data from the pulseox is going to be from trends rather than individual readings.
 

Tikatika

macrumors 6502a
Mar 12, 2012
709
794
Northern California
I’ll be following this thread with interest. I am a lifelong asthmatic and use my pulse oxymeter several times a day. I have an S6 on order, upgrading from an S4, for this very reason. I think the feature would be great, particularly when away from home due to mask wearing. There’s another thread going with the OP saying the watch reading wildly inaccurate and shows him in hypoxia.
 
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eagleglen

macrumors 65816
Oct 2, 2009
1,127
309
Phoenix, AZ
I have asthma and another more degenerative lung disease, so I’ve been measuring my SpO2 regularly for sometime. In tests where I have used my finger sensor and the series 6, the readinns have been near identical. Granted, each time I was sitting still with my arm slightly below chest height, the band snug and pushed up a little above my wrist, and essentially following Apple’s recommends. When you use a portable finger sensor, you have to remain still during that reading too. When I was in the hospital and took walks to build up my strength, the nurses would tape the finger sensor to my finger to get a continuous reading while I walked around the hospital floor. Based on that, I wasn’t expecting the Watch to be superior, which is what many here seem to want.

So to answer the original question, I find measuring my oxygen saturation level with the watch to be easier than digging out the finger sensor and measuring it, so that is a tremendous convenience. Also today, while I was swimming for a workout, I was able to pause and measure my oxygen saturation, while still in the pool. I found that extremely useful. Now when I’m very out of breath, it will be nice to know, right then and there, what my blood oxygen level is. Yes, I need to hold still for 15 seconds, but it’s still worthwhile.
 

cdcastillo

macrumors 68000
Dec 22, 2007
1,714
2,672
The cesspit of civilization
Hey all, I was just wondering if any Apple Watch 6 owners out there have asthma, and if so - has the series 6 given any benefit over previous versions? I guess the blood oxygen monitoring is the obvious upgrade over the 5, which perhaps could be useful. I'm not expecting the 6 to be a miracle device for asthma sufferers, but curious if the blood oxygen monitoring (together with other biometrics) has given any help at all?

For instance, if you went out in the cold, night air and your blood oxygen level dropped 2%, that could be relevant for a doctor to monitor your condition and provide a different treatment / self-care plan. I've searched online, but all I can find is that Apple are "doing studies". Any first-hand experience would be amazing, if anyone cares to share?

Thanks

A 2% drop in oxygen saturation when changing locations is not that relevant. Every time you start an activity (like just getting up and walking about) oxygen saturation can change by 2% to 5%. More relevant is if the oxygen saturation remains below a threshold (it varies depending on the altitude you live at) for several minutes at a time.
 

leeuk321

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jul 21, 2018
168
141
Thanks for all the input, much appreciated. I've got a Series 3 and whilst the updates from the 3 to the 5 are notable, the always-on isn't a deal-breaker for me and the ECG I'd probably use a few times and then hardly ever again. So, I was wanting the blood-oxygen sensor to be the feature that gave me the final push to upgrade. Sounds like it's still in it's early days, and you need to exercise a little patience to get accurate readings, but it's infinitely better than nothing at all. I suppose as the watch evolves, the biometrics will all improve to not only get more accurate readings, but also be able to do the task better passively.

I think that the hidden ingredient that's waiting to be added to the stew lies in algorithms and AI. Being able to take isolated readings is great, passive readings even better. But I think that the hidden trick is as more biometrics are developed (blood pressure and blood sugar would be astonishing), regardless of their absolute accuracy or if readings can be done passively, patterns will be recognized and refined. So, even if the biometrics aren't hospital-grade, the ability to have a correlation between them, and context such as time of day, altitude, temperature, activity duration, etc etc, this is where the magic will be. That's something that just can't be done statically by a doctor, regardless of their expertise or equipment.

Obviously, the Watch is never going to be able to test 99% of stuff that doctors can test, but in terms of pre-doctor testing, when you perhaps you don't even realize that you might need to see a doctor, you don't even know the question to ask or that you should be asking a question at all, is where it'll gain more and more importance.

There's an old saying in photography that I'm sure many have heard of, "The best camera is the one you have with you". And I think that'll be largely true for the watch as it evolves, it'll be the best doctor, simply because it's the one you have with you.
 

Glene

macrumors 6502
Sep 13, 2014
446
171
Ft Lauderdale
I am getting completely accurate results with my AW6 that align with my pulse ox meter both during sleep and during the day. I have COPD, which one Pulmonologist says may be asthma instead, and more or less is treated the same way when it comes to oxygen. My readings at night are low at about 86 to 87, I’m going to add a portable oxygenator like an Inogen very soon. This is my fifth year of my lung condition.
 
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eagleglen

macrumors 65816
Oct 2, 2009
1,127
309
Phoenix, AZ
I am getting completely accurate results with my AW6 that align with my pulse ox meter both during sleep and during the day. I have COPD, which one Pulmonologist says may be asthma instead, and more or less is treated the same way when it comes to oxygen. My readings at night are low at about 86 to 87, I’m going to add a portable oxygenator like an Inogen very soon. This is my fifth year of my lung condition.
Good luck with your condition. I’m glad the AW6 is providing another opportunity to monitor your oxygen levels.
 
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