If you've got a fitness tracker collecting dust on your dresser or pushed to the back of your junk drawer, you may want to slap it back on your wrist. Sure, they can be annoying sometimes, but a Connecticut woman owes her life to one.
UConn Today explains that recently retired 73-year-old Patricia Lauder started wearing a Fitbit tracker to keep track of her steps. It was just a way for her to encourage herself to walk, but she told the site that she soon started to feel ill, like she had a severe cold or even pneumonia. After doctor visits, X-rays, and more, she simply wasn't getting better. Throughout it all, she kept walking and her Fitbit kept keeping tabs on her activity. That's when she noticed that her resting heart rate was rising rapidly. Normally, she says, it was in the range of 68-70 beats per minute, but it was rising up to five beats per minute every day. When that number hit 140, she called 911.
"If I didn’t have a Fitbit on my wrist, I would never have known that my heart rate was getting dangerously high," Lauder told UConn Today. "And I might not be here to tell my story."
A CT scan showed two huge blood clots in Lauder's lungs, known as pulmonary embolisms. The clots were making her heart and lungs work overtime, which accounted for the rising resting heart rate that her Fitbit recorded. Left untreated, her heart could have enlarged and lung artery pressure could have limited the amount of oxygen her body was receiving.
Doctors didn't hesitate to treat the clots. Instead, they rushed Lauder into a treatment that used intravenous anticoagulation medication to dissolve them. The doctors' quick actions had the clots gone by the next day — and Lauder isn't hesitating to credit her trusty Fitbit for saving her life.
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