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Fitbit May Have a New Way To Detect an Irregular Heartbeat

Aug 27, 2017

When a 42-year-old patient came to Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center in New Jersey to be treated after a seizure last year, doctors were able to identifyexactly when his heart rate began to spike by looking at his Fitbit fitness tracker. It let doctors know he’d only been in a-fib for a few hours—well within the window necessary to employ a procedure that brought his heart back into rhythm before sending him home.

As a side perk, it’s already paying dividends, but Fitbit hopes to make its activity monitors even more useful in situations like these. The company is researching ways in which its wristbands can be used to assist those who suffer from atrial fibrillation by identifying periods in which abnormal heart beats may be occurring, a Fitbit executive told TIME. “When we start to look at our PurePulse [heart rate monitor] data that we get from all of these users, we began to see irregularities in heart rhythms,” says Subramaniam Venkatraman, Fitbit’s director of research. “From our knowledge of physiology, [that] suggests an indicator of atrial fibrillation.”

Atrial fibrillation is a quivering or irregular heartbeat that can lead to blood clots, strokes and other heart-related complications. At least 2.7 million people in the U.S. live with the condition, according to the American Heart Association. An episode of atrial fibrillation isn’t usually harmful on its own, but it can increase a person’s risk for stroke even when they’re not experiencing symptoms, which can include dizziness, shortness of breath and chest pain.

Continue reading at: http://time.com/4907284/fitbit-detect-atrial-fibrillation/