Smart Trackers Could Detect Aging-Related Complications in Seniors

Wearable smart devices that track daily circadian rest-activity rhythms may allow for the detection of frailty-related health risks in seniors more than six years before the problems occur. A new study from Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital has found that smart trackers could aid in the prediction of age-related health risks long before incidents happen.

Older populations tend to face age-related declines in their psychological functions as they grow older, especially individuals who are genetically predisposed to develop certain age-related psychological conditions. In most cases, however, these conditions often become apparent once the illness has set in and symptoms have become entrenched. Developing a system that allows physicians to accurately predict them more than half a decade before they occur could significantly improve treatment success rates and allow older individuals to enjoy a high quality of life for longer.

Such a system would rely on detecting the daily disturbances in patterns of activity and rest that have been associated with the development of neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

Prior research has also found that as circadian rest-activity rhythms change as people age, older individuals tend to prefer keeping earlier hours compared to younger adults. Ruixue Cai, lead study author and doctoral candidate in the Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders, says the study demonstrates that wearable smart devices could aid in the long-term monitoring of health in older adults. Cai notes that detecting frailty early or predicting its occurrence could help physicians deploy intervention strategies that encourage healthy aging and improve quality of life.

The research team studied a group of 1,022 adults who were recruited in the Rush Memory and Aging Project, which followed up on the patients annually for more than 15 years. After analyzing continuous activity and rest data collected from wearable devices, the research team found that 357 of the project participants developed frailty over a six-and-a-half-year period. Data collected included measures such as rhythm variability, stability and amplitude.

The researchers also discovered less robust, inconsistent or robust rest-activity patterns were tied to a high risk of frailty incidence and faster progression of frailty symptoms such as increasing fatigue, reduction in body mass index, and decrease in grip strength. The study was limited by factors such as environmental conditions and seasonal variations that can affect rest-activity patterns or wearable devices misinterpreting sleep and wake cycles.

Even so, corresponding study author and biomedical engineer Peng Li, PhD, says wearable technology could provide physicians with a holistic approach for the detection of common-disease indicators and early launch of intervention measures in susceptible populations.

Many companies such as Longeveron Inc. (NASDAQ: LGVN) are focused on commercializing treatments targeting the conditions that afflict people as they age. These include aging-related frailty and Alzheimer’s disease. The success of these efforts could give older adults a chance at a better quality of life in their twilight years.

NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Longeveron Inc. (NASDAQ: LGVN) are available in the company’s newsroom at

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