Wearing a Fitbit Literally Saved Someone's Life
Wearable fitness trackers have become wildly popular in recent years. Users like to keep track of their heart rates and steps taken while they exercise. However, a New Jersey man can thank his Fitbit for doing more than keeping track of his daily workout—the heart rate monitor allowed doctors to make a life-saving decision.
According to the report published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, a 42-year-old man went to the emergency room after experiencing a seizure. Shortly after he arrived, the medical staff noticed that he had an atrial fibrillation—an unusually fast heart rate—but it didn't know if it was a chronic condition or a result of the seizure. Seeing that the patient was wearing a Fitbit, the doctors used the device's data, and ultimately decided to reset his heart using an electrical cardioversion.
Without the information the Fitbit provided, deciding whether or not to go through with the cardioversion would have been a guessing game with potentially fatal results. Had the speedy heartbeat been a chronic condition, using the cardioversion could dislodge an appendage clot, possibly triggering a stroke. The report detailed how doctors used the technology to save the patient's life:
During the patient's examination, it was noted that he was wearing a wrist activity tracker ... which was synchronized with an application on the patient's smartphone, recording his pulse rate as part of a fitness program. The application was accessed on the patient's smartphone and revealed a baseline pulse rate between 70 and 80 beats [per minute], with an immediate persistent increase to a range of 140 to 160 [beats per minute] at the approximate time of the patient's seizure. The pulse rate remained elevated until administration of the [drug] diltiazem in the field.
According to the report, this is the first time in medical history that information from a fitness-tracking smartphone application was used to assist in medical decision-making.
The report further speculated that using items, like fitness trackers, can provide medical professionals information that otherwise would be unknown. Also, integration of activity trackers could help document the onset and duration of abnormal heartbeats, and aid in resuscitation following cardiac arrest. The report details this:
Any number of symptomatic conditions can resolve before an encounter with a medical provider. Syncope, palpitations, dizziness and even chest pain are all frequently self-limited complaints, leaving the clinician with only the history of the present illness on which to formulate a diagnosis. In many instances, knowledge of the patient's pulse rate at the event could help in establishing a firmer diagnosis. Dizziness associated with a pulse rate of 180 beats [per minute] would be approached much differently than the same complaint with a pulse rate of 30 beats [per minute].
So, in addition to being an incentive to walk, run or bike for personal fitness, fitness trackers may also appeal to end-users as potentially life-saving devices.
Tracking rate abnormalities can guide the clinician in designing further evaluation strategies using more sophisticated instrumentation. The increased use of these devices has the potential to provide clinicians with objective clinical information before the actual patient encounter.
What do you think? Will this news increase demand for fitness trackers in the promotional products industry? Let us know why or why not.