A man was quietly sitting and watching TV one day when, in his doctor’s words, he started to feel a bit funny. He glanced down at his fitness monitor and saw that his heart rate was in the fat-burning range; sure enough, his heart was going at 125 beats per minute — 30-50 percent more than what it should have been while at rest. Concerned, he wound up going to the hospital, where he learned he was experiencing a dangerous heart rhythm.
That’s one of the stories that Stanford cardiologist Euan Ashley, MD, DPhil, shared during a recent episode of the “Future of Everything” radio show. Earlier this year, Ashley and colleagues published a study on the accuracy of some heart rate and activity trackers, and he was on the show to discuss this work and wearables in general.
In the case above, Ashley pointed out, “the device, without knowing it, had diagnosed a heart problem.” And, he added, here lies the opportunity for medicine: “Clearly these devices can do more than just tell you hard you’re working or how many calories you’ve expended.”
Ashley and host Russ Altman, MD, PhD, went on to discuss a variety of issues surrounding fitness monitors and the data gleaned from them before pivoting to DNA sequencing and Ashley’s work with the Stanford Center for Undiagnosed Diseases. “For me it’s one of the exciting things I’m involved in,” Ashley told listeners.
Previously: How doctors are battling “an unknown enemy”, Fitness trackers accurately measure heart rate but not calories burned, Stanford study shows, Stanford study shows wearable sensors can tell when you’re getting sick and What needs to happen for wearable devices to improve people’s health?
Thumbnail photo by Paul Sakuma