Fitbit Might have Helped Doctors Save a Man’s Life

On April 13, 2016, Lucas Mearian released an article on Computer World talking about how a man’s life was saved with the aid of the Fitbit. This might be considered one of the first cases where Fitbit has assisted in a treatment decision.

In this particular case, there was a 42 year old man who was admitted into the hospital’s emergency room at Camden, New Jersey. This man has an irregular heartbeat. However, physicians were not too sure that they were able to use a defibrillator to shock his heart back so that the man’s heartbeat would resume as regular.

These doctors then noticed that the 42 year old patient had a Fitbit which was able to track the man’s pulse. This pulse data was then recorded into the man’s smart phone. The doctors were able to use this data and compare it to a grand mal seizure that the man had three hours earlier. With this comparison, the doctors were able to conclude that administering a defibrillator shock to the man’s heart would be safe enough so that the heart would not release clotting that could have possibly killed him.

Here’s what doctors has said about the Fitbit.

“To our knowledge, this is the first report to use the information in an activity tracker-smartphone system to assist in specific medical decision making.”

Doctors has noted this in a research paper which was published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine. The doctors also mentioned this in the paper.

“Not all activity trackers measure pulse rates, but this is the function of most value to medical providers.”

The 42 year old man was wearing the Fitbit Charge HR. This Fitbit Charge HR uses a pulsed diode that is light emitting in order to determine the pulse rate of the user. There are also photo diodes that are light sensing in order to measure light reflected from bloods in veins. With this combination, the Fitbit Charge HR can be used to identify changes in capillary blood volume. Lastly, an algorithm is used that converts the data into an accurate pulse rate.


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