Fitbit data proves valuable in ER treatment decision

A wearable activity tracker and a smartphone app played an integral role in medical decision making for a 42-year-old male suffering from a self-limited grand mal seizure.

During emergency room treatment, medical staff realized the patient was wearing a Fitbit Charge HR device, which tracks pulse rate as part of fitness monitoring via a smartphone app, according to a case report published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine. Doctors used the wearable data to determine the timing of an arrhythmia episode in choosing a rhythm conversion treatment approach.

"Once the patient's onset time for his atrial fibrillation was established as three hours before ED presentation, he was considered a candidate for rhythm conversion," according to the case study. The app was again examined after the cardioversion, after being left in place during the procedure. The patient revealed normal sinus rhythm at his follow-up appointment.

This was the first use of smartphone activity tracker data in assisting with arrhythmia management, the report's authors note. According to a recent IDC report, wearables shipments will hit 110 million by the year's end and pass the 200 million mark in three years.

However, the data gleaned from such devices may not always be accurate. A study published last month revealed that most wearable devices are not producing accurate results for tracking energy expenditure. 

Regardless, "interrogation of an activity tracker can not only correlate symptoms with pulse rates but also document the onset or duration of abnormally high or low rates," the report's authors note. 

For more information:
- read the case report