They track fitness, sleep and steps, and now they have the potential to save lives.
One woman credits her Fitbit with saving her life, making her aware of when her heart rate rose to abnormally high levels and cueing her to go to the hospital. As a result, she is still alive today.
Patricia Lauder is 73 years old and lives in Connecticut. She has worn her Fitbit fitness tracker for some time, recording her resting heart rate and daily activity. Her resting heart rate was usually between 60 and 70 beats per minute, but one day she noticed that this number was much higher than normal.
“My resting heart rate got to the point where a simple chore was a big effort,” Lauder told reporters.
One day, Lauder noticed that her resting heart rate had reached 140 beats per minute, even when she was lying down. She had been experiencing some symptoms that she suspected were caused by a case of walking pneumonia and had undergone a series of tests, but had not yet received a diagnosis from her doctor. When she saw that her heart rate had risen to such an alarming number, she decided to call an ambulance.
“I just couldn’t wait anymore. Something else had to be done, which is why I called the ambulance – which turned out to be a good thing,” she stated.
In the ambulance, the responders confirmed the data from Lauder’s Fitbit, stating that her resting heart rate had reached dangerously high levels. When she arrived at the UConn John Dempsey Hospital in Farmington, the doctors found that she had blood clots in both of her lungs. They immediately took action, using a catheter to supply her lungs with anti-clot medicine. Her heart, at this time, had enlarged to 65 percent bigger than its normal size. Due to their quick actions, and Lauder’s decision to call an ambulance, they saved her life and restored normal function to her heart and lungs within 24 hours.
“I had the procedure on Friday, removed the catheter on Saturday and was home Monday evening,” she said.
Had Lauder not been wearing her Fitbit, she may not have known that she was in such grave danger. The doctor who treated her, Dr. JuYong Lee, credits her wearable with giving Lauder the signal that something was wrong.
“I think the Fitbit actually helped her decide whether or not this was a serious condition at that time,” said Lee. “This condition is very critical and she may have actually died if she had not sought medical attention.”
While some have found that these fitness wearables do not provide accurate data, they can give an estimate and provide insight into one’s health otherwise unavailable. Patricia Lauder is certainly grateful for hers, and saw enough details in the data to spur her to take action that she otherwise might not have taken.