Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - JEN­NIFER DUD­LEY- NI­CHOL­SON

S M A R T W A T C H E S a r e trans­form­ing into med­i­cal de­vices ca­pa­ble of do­ing ev­ery­thing from assess­ing fit­ness lev­els and flag­ging sleep prob­lems to mon­i­tor­ing heart rhythms and help­ing users to fall preg­nant.

But a world- first study into the de­vices, based in Aus­tralia, is be­ing launched to test whether wear­able tech­nol­ogy re­ally can save lives, and if doc­tors should be pre­scrib­ing Fit­bits and Ap­ple Watches along with healthy di­ets and ex­er­cise.

Sydney’s West­mead Pri­vate Hospi­tal as­so­ci­ate pro­fes­sor Sau­rabh Ku­mar, who will con­duct the re­search af­ter be­ing awarded a CSANZ- Bayer Young In­ves­ti­ga­tor Grant, said smart­watch wear­ers were al­ready ap­proach­ing doc­tors based on heart- rate in­for­ma­tion col­lected from the tech­nol­ogy, and car­di­ol­o­gists needed to know just how ac­cu­rate their read­ings were.

“A lot of pa­tients do go to GPs hav­ing no symp­toms but their wear­able de­vice has prompted them to see a doc­tor,” Prof Ku­mar said.

“There have are been iso­lated re­ports of peo­ple be­ing di­ag­nosed with heart condi- tions on the heart rates.

“Given the re­cent ex­plo­sion in wear­able de­vices, we need to sys­tem­at­i­cally eval­u­ate these de­vices against a gold stan­dard and de­ter­mine whether they are ca­pa­ble of de­tect­ing changes in heart rate and com­mon car­diac rhythm prob­lems.”

Ad­vanced health fea­tures in the lat­est gen­er­a­tion of smartwatches in­clude a yetto- be- re­leased elec­tro­car­dio­gram mon­i­tor in the Ap­ple Watch 4 and stress as­sess­ments in­side Sam­sung’s Gal­axy Watch.

Meawhile, the Fit­bit Versa smart­phone can track your heart rate, deep and light sleep cy­cles, and even women’s re­pro­duc­tive cy­cles.

The health- re­lated in­for­ma­tion col­lected from these de­vices could tip off doc­tors to prob­lems.

Fit­bit Asia Pa­cific Health So­lu­tions di­rec­tor John Gill­man said the com­pany’s fit­ness track­ers were de­signed to help users man­age their own health, rather than re­place a doc­tor.

Fit­bit has, how­ever, launched a pro­gram called Fit­bit Care this month of­fer­ing coach­ing and disease pre­ven­tion for health in­sur­ance com­pa­nies and em­ploy­ers. ba­sis of high Fit­bit Versa + 12 month dig­i­tal sub­scrip­tion Only $ 7.50 a week for the first 12 months. Min. cost $ 390 and con­di­tions ap­ply. See page 2 or call 1800 174 683 to take up the of­fer.

ON RIGHT TRACK: Madeleine West­land us­ing the new Fit­bit Versa while work­ing out at the gym.

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