Whenever I see someone walking around with a Fitbit, I kind of roll my eyes. Mostly because I find it ridiculous that most people gather a bunch of data like they think actually collecting the data is going to help them in their everyday lives. It's like I know that double cheeseburgers with fried eggs on them are terrible for you, but it doesn't stop me from wanting to eat them every chance that I get. Just like Steve from accounting knowing how many steps he's walked the other day is going to transform him into some elite-level athlete.
But I understand that that's just the hater part of myself talking - I'm sure there are plenty of people who use the data their Fitbits give them to help them make healthier choices on a daily basis and adjust their workouts and eating habits accordingly.
Plus, at the end of the day, they double as casual watches with great battery life, can be worn in pretty much any situation, and do all sorts of neat stuff like track your sleeping habits and monitor your heart rate.
It turns out that the latter feature ended up saving a woman's life, after it detected an anomaly in her heartbeat.
73-year-old Patricia Lauder saw that her Fitbit was logging her resting heart rate at 140bpm - double her normal resting heart rate of 60-70 beats per minute. Lauder had been battling a sinus infection and a previous doctor's visit revealed she may have had a mild case of pneumonia. So when she saw the irregular activity on her FitBit, she called 911 and was brought to the ER.
"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."
And it turns out that doctors found a blood clot in both of her lungs. This caused her heart to overexert itself to bring her oxygen levels to normal.
Doctors treated her clots and 24 hours later, everything was back to normal. For Lauder's doctors, the wearable device played a pivotal role in ensuring she got the care she needed.
"Because of the clot, initially, the pressure in her right ventricle was very dilated and not functioning well... I think the Fitbit actually helped her decide whether or not this was a serious condition at that time," Dr. JuYong Lee, Director of vascular and endovascular medicine at UConn Health Calhoun Cardiology Center.
Dr. Lee went on to say that had Lauder not taken the FitBit alert seriously, things could've very well ended badly for her:
"This condition is very critical and she may have actually died if she had not sought medical attention."
Fitbits have saved people's lives in the past, too.
Last year, doctors were able to quickly decide which treatment would be best for a man after looking at his Fitbit's history and finding the exact moment his heart rate jumped. Oftentimes doctors find it difficult to obtain accurate data from their patients, so having a device that can give them concrete info about a patient can make all the difference.