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The coronavirus can be sneaky: Patients may feel fine one hour, then start gasping for air the next. And while some people feel sick within two days of being infected, COVID-19 symptoms can take up to two weeks to manifest.
So doctors have become increasingly reliant on a small medical device called a pulse oximeter that measures the level of oxygen in a person’s blood.
Blood-oxygen readings can help flag serious cases even before a person has developed severe symptoms like shortness of breath. They can also signal to patients when it’s time to go to the hospital.
Now they’re one of the many features on the new Apple Watch Series 6, which launches Friday.
The watch is far more expensive than a pulse oximeter sold over the counter at drug stores: $400 compared about $30 to $50. Traditional oximeters also clip around the fingertip instead of the wrist. But there are advantages to having the tool on hand at all times.
A June study from the Swedish Hospital in Chicago found that pulse oximeters reliably flagged severe cases of COVID-19 among patients who consistently monitored their blood-oxygen levels throughout the day.
The study involved 77 COVID-19 patients, most of whom had recently been sent home from the emergency room. The patients were asked to check their blood-oxygen levels every day for a week in the morning, afternoon, and at night. If their resting blood-oxygen level dipped below 92%, patients were told to return to the ER.
Doctors typically look for a range of 95 to 100% for healthy patients. Oxygen levels below 90% signal a clinical emergency, according to the World Health Organization.
Ultimately, less than 20 of the Chicago patients recorded blood-oxygen levels below 92% while they were at home. Almost all of those patients returned to the …read more
Source:: Business Insider