How Smart Technology is making a difference in patient’s lives
Smart technology in cellphones, tablets and computers have not only revolutionized our daily lives but how we also monitor our health. More specifically, the Apple Watch, one of the most popular smart wristwatches in the world, has become a great tool for patients to monitor their heart health. Recently, there have been stories of patients discovering irregularities in their heart rate because of notifications from their smart watch. Apple has teamed up with Stanford Medicine to form the “Apple Heart Study”, which uses data from the Apple Watch to identify irregular heart rhythms, as well as potentially serious heart conditions. Apple then uses the information gathered to improve its technology which is designed to detect and analyze irregular heart rhythms. If irregularities are discovered with a person’s heart rate, they then have the option to consult with a telehealth Heart Study Cardiologist. The Cardiologist then may do further observations of the patient while wearing a small “e-patch”, which will gather important data and give a clearer picture of the perceived issues, as well as give recommendations to the patient’s primary health care provider. What does this mean for most patients? Millions of Americans experience the common form of hearth arrhythmia known Atrial Fibrillation or “A-fib”. For most people, it is undiagnosed, and can often come and go regularly, especially if set off by certain stimulants such as alcohol, caffeine and other substances. Although a person may see their primary care physician with regularity, heart arrhythmias may not show up on the EKG, unless they are experiencing “A-Fib” at that exact moment. In addition, these undetected arrhythmias are among the leading causes of stroke. The more monitoring that a patient has, the better chance that irregularities are caught at an earlier stage before a stroke occurs. Therefore, heart monitoring devices such as the Apple Watch, may be beneficial to senior patients, as well as those who are more susceptible to heart attacks and arrhythmias. As is the case with most technology, there is definitely room for improvement. It is possible that the watch may pick up on arrhythmias if a person enjoys their morning coffee or has an intense workout session at the gym. However, the overall benefit is positively overwhelming. Most people may stigmatize that heart health only affects seniors or morbidly obese individuals, but this is far from the case. Recently, a teenager received an alert from her smart watch that her heart rate was unusually high. Besides a headache and a small bout of shortness of breath, she reportedly felt normal. Once she received another alert from her watch, she went to the emergency room. Doctors then identified that she was suffering from chronic kidney disease, and if it were not for the alerts from her watch, it is very possible that the disease may have continued to go undetected and potentially have devastating effects. The benefits of the smart watch are not only good for seniors or those looking to lose weight, it is effective for all, no matter their age, gender or physical ailments.