Fitbit Charge HR wearable might have saved a man's life



If you think that fitness trackers and bands that monitor heart rate and other data are mostly for show, there is a 42-year old man who would certainly disagree. In fact, his Fitbit Charge HR might have been the only thing that prevented him from passing away in the ER at Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center in Camden.

The man suffered a seizure and arrived by ambulance at the ER with an irregular heartbeat known as atrial fibrillation. To correctly treat the condition, Doctors would have to know if the AFib was chronic, or if it was set off by the seizure which had taken place 20 minutes before his arrival at the hospital.  The usual treatment is to get the paddles and shock the heart back into sinus rhythm (Yes, we are big fans of ER, House, Chicago Med and other shows of that genre).

If the patient's AFib was a chronic condition, shocking the heart could set off a stroke by dislodging an appendage clot, sending it to the aorta. But a stroke could ensue if the doctors decided to do nothing to treat the arrhythmia. Luckily, one of the hospital staff noticed that the patient was wearing a Fitbit, which synced with an app on his smartphone. Looking at the app, the doctors determined that the patient had a baseline pulse rate in between 70 and 80 bpm. That rose to 140 to 160 bpm at the time that the seizure started, and stayed at that rate until medication was administered in the field.

With that information, the docs realized that it was the seizure that caused the atrial fibrillation. Therefore, the heart could be shocked into sinus rhythm, which it was. This was the first time on record that a fitness tracker was used by doctors to help them make a medical "life or death" decision on treatment.


We wouldn't be surprised to see fitness tracker sales pick up sharply in the months ahead.


source: AnnalsofEmergencyMedicine, EmergencyCare ForYou via Gizmodo

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7 Comments

1. Bm888

Posts: 517; Member since: Jul 06, 2015

Well.. These health tech gadgets, are really meant to improve our healthy lifestyles and detect anomalies earlier.. Only a matter of time till they become more mainstream and crucial in medical Dx and Rx... :-)

2. saif2711

Posts: 69; Member since: Feb 22, 2016

Technology at its finest n best..good

3. JoshN

Posts: 202; Member since: Apr 01, 2015

I quite like the continuous HR Tracking

5. surethom

Posts: 1560; Member since: Mar 04, 2009

I only wish smart watches had a proper health app like fitbit & jawbone not the usual android basic info.

6. Af1rPA

Posts: 712; Member since: Jun 12, 2014

My Fitbit HR failed after 8 months. My own fault bc wore it in the shower. I hope the next generation is water proof.

7. AceNJ

Posts: 24; Member since: Sep 29, 2015

great story. it's important to note that its a fitbit which has continuous HR monitoring. Most devices such as gear s2 and apple watch do not have this feature so be aware what you are considering to buy if this story entices you.

9. aahmed215

Posts: 169; Member since: Jun 18, 2012

How did they get into the patient's smartphone?

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