Fitness trackers like the Fitbit are great for reaching personal fitness goals and monitoring progress, but the technology inside of them has the potential to do a lot more than that — it could one day save your life.
A 42-year-old man from New Jersey was recently rushed to the hospital after suffering a seizure, where doctors found that the man had an irregular and fast heartbeat. Only problem was, they weren’t sure if this was a chronic condition or something he was experiencing due to the seizure.
That’s when the doctors treating him noticed he was wearing a Fitbit Charge HR. Normally doctors wouldn’t have information about what the patient was experiencing immediately before a seizure, but the Fitbit helped eliminate a lot of those unknowns. Using the data, doctors detected that the man had in fact been experiencing the irregular heartbeat leading up to the seizure, after which they decided to perform an electrocardioversion to help return the heart to its normal heartbeat.
“Using the patient’s activity tracker — in this case, a Fitbit — we were able to pinpoint exactly when the patient’s normal heart rate of 70 jumped up to 190,” said Dr. Alfred Sacchetti from the Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center in Camden, NJ, in a statement.
This is the first documented case of doctors using a fitness tracker to help diagnose a patient, and it most likely will not be the last. Not all fitness trackers have heart rate monitors, but the vast majority of them do, and the feature could become key in treating heart-related medical issues. Sure, Fitbit’s aren’t technically classified as medical devices as the data they collect isn’t as accurate as a true medical device, but the information they and other fitness trackers provide could still be invaluable in helping save someone’s life.
The Fitbit has been used to detect a range of different changes in heart rate — recently a woman found out she was pregnant after seeing changes in her heart rate and Googling what could be causing them.