A Fitbit might have saved this man's life

Fitbit Charge
Fitbit Charge

Fitness trackers are a long way off replacing our doctors, but as a new case has shown, tracking heart rate information can alert users to some health problems when they arise.

In a recent case an emergency physicians used the heart rate information from a Fitbit to work out when a patient's irregular heart rate began.

From there the medical experts were able to identify the problem, be certain they could treat him with a defibrillator, and discharge him home. Without that information to hand, it would have taken them much longer to do.

Helping band

The patient had no previous history of cardiac disease or history of seizures, but the Fitbit app showed that his heart beat was between 130 to 190 beats per minute.

Alfred Sacchetti, author of the study, said: "Using the patient's activity tracker – in this case, a Fitbit – we were able to pinpoint exactly when the patient's normal heart rate of 70 jumped up to 190."

"The device told us that the patient's atrial fibrillation was present for only a few hours. That was well within the 48-hour window needed to consider him for rhythm conversion, so we cardioverted him and sent him home."

The study didn't make it clear which Fitbit product was used to identify the problem.

Bringing fitness tracking tech into the medical industry may bring extra benefits, but a large concern is the accuracy of the heart rate tracking tech on popular fitness bands.

Reports of inaccurate readings from Fitbit products have even meant the company has even been sued by customers for putting their health in danger. What happens if your fitness tracker emits the wrong reading and a medical professional uses it to treat you?

James Peckham

James is Managing Editor for Android Police. Previously, he was Senior Phones Editor for TechRadar, and he has covered smartphones and the mobile space for the best part of a decade bringing you news on all the big announcements from top manufacturers making mobile phones and other portable gadgets. James is often testing out and reviewing the latest and greatest mobile phones, smartwatches, tablets, virtual reality headsets, fitness trackers and more. He once fell over.