Health data self-tracking


As you grew up, the closest thing to your personal medical data-gathering device was probably a thermometer or bathroom scale. But these days, health trackers are much more sophisticated and wearable.

Smartwatches from companies such as fitbit And apologize It’s full of tiny sensors that display the results on your smartphone. It can track your heart rate, irregular heartbeat, blood oxygen level, noise alerts and even hand washing. And, of course, your pulse rate.

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Apple’s vice president of health, Dr. Sumbul Desai demonstrated to correspondent David Pogue how the Apple Watch could warn of dangerous noise levels, measure cardio and perform an electrocardiogram.

“And if you decide to share this with your doctor, you can hit ‘export to PDF’,” she said.

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But the most life-changing talent of the latest smartwatch is something entirely new. It can give you early warning of medical problems. “If you’re getting more or less sleep, for example, if your heart rate is a different baseline than before, it’s an early sign of something going on,” Desai said.

“If I find something surprising without checking anything, will you actually let me know?” asked Pogue.

“Yes. Another is walking stably, which means that when it detects a change in gait, it can provide an early warning so you can act on it.”

Next is atrial fibrillation. It is a heart disease in which the heart does not beat and trembles. Six million Americans have it, and it often leads to stroke. The problem is that the episodes are intermittent, and your doctor may miss them at the checkup. But the watch is always with you. “Our watch will detect if the heart is out of rhythm and display a notification,” Desai said.

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“Did this feature save your life?”

“Almost every day. Their doctor actually tells them, ‘I’m really glad you showed up when you came, because this could have really ended up being a lot different.'”

Professor Michael Snyder of the Stanford School of Medicine is conducting several studies to see how wearables can help detect disease. “You don’t drive a car without a dashboard,” he said. “Still, we exist as people. We are more important than cars, but most people are walking around without sensors. And I think we should wear these things because they can give us an initial situation.”

When asked what conditions a smartwatch might one day detect, Snyder said: “Infectious diseases, anemia and even type 2 diabetes. And I’m pretty sure there will be other things like heart conditions in the future. We’re working to see if we can find it.”

Snyder tried her smartwatch pills last month. On the day of his cross-country flight, he felt crowded. His research app alerted him to sudden changes in his breathing and heart rate. “So I got tested for Corona and it turned out to be negative. So I got on the plane. It was a big mistake.”

that did There is COVID. “I heard the corona test and should have picked up a smartwatch,” he said.

and enough, In a Fitbit study of 100,000 people,These metabolic changes predicted COVID three days before symptoms appeared.

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Currently, Snyder’s app doesn’t know what’s causing the vital signs to be messed up. “At this time, certain types of stressors, such as workplace stress and mental stress, cannot be distinguished from coronavirus,” he said. “But in the future we will.”

Professor Gina Neff of the University of Cambridge is a co-author of a book on self-tracking and is a fan of her overall.

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“I’m here to tell you this data is great,” she told Pogue. “People who follow self-tracking are more likely to connect with others and are more likely to be happy when connected with others.”

But she worries about who can see our medical data. “Imagine a device used in a warehouse. To make sure someone is moving fast enough“Imagine a device you enroll to help train you to be a safer driver,” she said. However Instead, it is used to increase insurance premiums.. This is the scenario used by companies today.”

At least Apple and Fitbit say they can’t see the data. According to Desai, “Apple doesn’t have access to your health information. It’s on your device, it’s encrypted, and you have control over it.”

“Are there any engineers who can look up David Pogue’s blood oxygen levels?”

“Absolutely not.”

Stanford University’s Michael Snyder says the promise of being able to detect disease in the wrist is a goal well worth pursuing. A health monitoring system for 3.8 billion people. I think we’re just the tip of the iceberg of what’s possible.”


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A story created by Amol Mhatre. Editor: Mike Levine.

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