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Fitbit helps save patient’s life, points to power of personal biometric scanners

Could a Fitbit save your life? Given the use of these devices in medical treatments so far, it's possible.

fitbit By MorePix (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

For the first time ever, emergency physicians are reporting that a personal activity tracker, in this case a Fitbit, was used while providing vital medical care.

For years now technology experts have been discussing the potential of such personal biometric scanners and their use in healthcare. And recently, doctors were able to use a Fitbit to determine when a patient’s heartbeat became irregularly, helping the doctors them prescribe the correct course of treatment.

According to Alfred Sacchetti, MD, FACEP of Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center in Camden, N.J., “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. The device told us that the patient’s atrial fibrillation was present for only a few hours. That was well within the 48-hour window needed to consider him for rhythm conversion, so we cardioverted him and sent him home.”

The patient in question was a 42 year old male with a history of seizures, but no history of heart problems. Doctors were trying to pinpoint when his heart started beating irregularly so they could determine if electrical cardioversion would be an effective course of treatment. In order to use said treatment effectively, it must be administered within 48 hours of the onset of the irregular heartbeat.

That’s when emergency room staff decided to access his Fitbit to see if they could find the proper data. Looking through the personal sensor, doctors were able to determine that the heart did in fact start beating irregularly within 24 hours.

Fitbit has proven to be a life saver on the patient side too. Earlier this year a 18 year old student ended up calling emergency services after her resting heart beat jumped from 84 beats per minute (bpm) to 210 BMP. Turns out that she had an undiagnosed heart condition.