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How the Apple Watch is defining the future of fitness trackers

The latest news in the world of fitness trackers is the Apple Watch aiding in saving the life of a Massachusetts teenager after the device alerted him t...

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|Oct 1|magazine11 min read

The latest news in the world of fitness trackers is the Apple Watch aiding in saving the life of a Massachusetts teenager after the device alerted him that his heart rate was much higher than normal, leading to the diagnosis of a life-threatening condition.

Paul Houle Jr., 18, said he felt back pain after two football practices in one day but didn’t think much of it, reported the Huffington Post. Upon returning to his dorm room, he checked his heart rate on his new Apple Watch and was immediately alerted to a heart rate of 145 beats per minute—60 to 80 beats higher than the average resting heart rate, according to our sister publication Business Review USA.

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While Houle initially suspected that his Apple Watch might be broken, he went to his athletic trainer for a check-up. After being examined by his trainer and the school’s nurse, Houle was taken to the emergency room, where he was diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis—a condition in which muscles release a protein that damages vital organs and causes a rapid heart rate.

“Doctors told me that if I had not said anything and [had] gone to practice the next day, I very easily could have died,” Houle told the Huffington Post.

The Apple Watch is not a medical device and cannot be used to diagnose heart conditions, Dr. Allen Taylor told Yahoo! News, but it could potentially alert people to a health problem that should be evaluated.

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The future of fitness trackers

The fitness tracking industry is expected to grow USD$50 billion by 2018, and cases such as the one mentioned above will only lead to better technology being created for fitness trackers and more consumers using them.

Fitness trackers currently sense motion to track activity, sync wirelessly with smartphones and measure the user’s activity and heart rate. Additional conditions that can be detected by fitness trackers with heart rate monitoring capabilities include atrial fibrillation (erratic heartbeats), anemia and an overactive thyroid as this can cause a faster heartbeat.

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Fitness trackers for health executives

Fitness trackers are changing as more individuals report their user experience and technology adapts to needs. As of late, fitness trackers are no longer being solely created for consumers as Google X recently reported that it is designing a health tracker just for doctors. The health tracking wristband is intended to be used in clinical trials and drug tests.

Many doctors believe that 50 percent of diseases go from bad to worse because of improper or late diagnosis. Google is hoping to change this statistic however by creating a technology that can extract continuous medical-grade information about the wearer. Doctors can then study and understand recurring patterns of diseases and find the best solution to combat them.

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It makes sense that fitness trackers will only continue to improve and offer more potentially life-saving apps. But at the end of the day, whether it's detecting conditions early or monitoring conditions, there are a lot of advantages to fitness trackers.

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