Health

FitBit Fitness Tracker Saves Woman’s Life

The constant tracking of heart rate via a wearable fitness device saved a Connecticut woman's life. Photo Credit: IPhoneDigital/Flickr
FitBit Fitness Tracker Saves Woman’s Life
Denise Recalde

A Connecticut woman’s Fitbit fitness tracker saved her life when it confirmed her elevated heartbeat and shortness of breath underlined a larger problem.

Patricia Lauder, 73, of Harwinton, knew she had a serious a health problem in mid-January when her wearable fitness tracker told her she had a resting heart rate of 140 beats per minute.

Fighting an ongoing sinus infection and a suspected case of walking pneumonia, Lauder was waiting for the results of diagnostic tests to determine what was causing her symptoms.

But the day-to-day information provided by her fitness tracker allowed her to keep track of what was becoming an abnormally high resting heart rate for her.

“Finally, my resting heart rate got to the point where a simple chore was a big effort,” she said.

Over a span of a few days, she noticed her resting heart rate had slowly risen from her normal 60 to 70 beats per minute to over 100.

“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,” Lauder said of her decision to call 911.

As she was taken to the emergency department of a local hospital, the paramedics confirmed the information provided to her by her Fitbit.

Her heart rate was above 140 beats per minute while lying down, as measured by the team of first responders.

“When I got to the hospital, they did a series of tests and found that I had blood clots in both lungs,” Lauder said.

A blood clot forms when insoluble proteins and platelets form a gel-like mass to first stop bleeding, reports CNN. When the body is working properly, blood clots form only near injuries or cuts, but sometimes, for reasons unknown, a clot can form in an artery or vein and decrease blood flow.

Lauder was fortunately able to visit several doctors as she was being treated for her other symptomatic diseases.

Doctors still aren’t sure whether her lung clots were linked to her respiratory infection. Researchers say there is an established link between respiratory infections and a temporary increased risk of abnormal clot formation.

What is clear is that her heart was working considerably harder to circulate blood in her body.

“My heart had enlarged to about 65 percent beyond its [normal] capacity,” Lauder said.

Doctors immediately treated her for the clots, which dissipated within 24 hours. Her lungs and heart returned to normal.

According to Mashable, in 2016, a 42-year-old man’s Fitbit Charge HR was able to provide his doctors with valuable historical data on his heart rate that allowed them to diagnose his problem more accurately.

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