This week saw the first report of a fitness tracker used to diagnose and treat a patient in an emergency room.
The healthcare mantra everyone should know: correct treatment applied quickly produces better results.
The episode occurred at Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center in Camden, NJ. A patient had an irregular heart beat (arrhythmia) and seizure prompting the patient to go to an ER.
Doctors can use a treatment called an electrical cardioversion on patient’s whose arrhythmia has started within 48 hours of seeking treatment. Unfortunately, the patient often cannot report accurately when the episode began.
However, a Fitbit® can. The Fitbit® also can tell when treatment causes the heartbeat to return to normal after treatment. Instead of monitoring the patient over a period of hours, these means immediate treatment, immediate results and faster discharge from the ER.
In the words of Dr. Alfred Sacchetti, the physician reporting on this event: “Not all activity trackers measure heart rates, but this is the function of most value to medical providers. Dizziness with a heart rate of 180 would be approached very differently from the same complaint and a heart rate of 30. At present, activity trackers are not considered approved medical devices and use of their information to make medical decisions is at the clinician’s own discretion. However, the increased use of these devices has the potential to provide emergency physicians with objective clinical information prior to the patient’s arrival at the emergency department.”
Bottom line: having a fitness tracker can be invaluable when something happens to you. However, the fitness tracker needs to be able to track heart rate. You need to make sure that the brand and model you buy can do this.
For good third party reviews of fitness trackers: please see: PC Magazine, “The Best Fitness Trackers of 2016”,
How monitors work: http://www.livescience.com/42220-heart-rate-monitors.html
About heart rates: http://www.livescience.com/42081-normal-heart-rate.html