SMARTWATCHES HEALTHY TREND
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.