"If I didn't have a Fitbit on my wrist, I would never have known that my heart rate was getting dangerously high."
Your fitness tracker does a lot more than just track your activity. Along with monitoring your steps, these smart devices also keep tabs on your sleeping patterns and heart rate throughout the day. While we usually take some of these features for granted, they can actually tell you a lot about your health—something 73-year-old Patricia Lauder experienced first hand. (Related: 5 Cool New Ways to Use Your Fitness Tracker)
In mid-January Lauder woke up to find her FitBit recording a resting heart rate of 140 beats per minute—immediately warning her that something wasn't right with her body. The retiree from Connecticut had been struggling to overcome a sinus infection when her heart rate caused alarm. "I just couldn't wait anymore. Something else had to be done, which is why I called the ambulance—which turned out to be a good thing," she told CNN.
On the ride to the hospital, paramedics confirmed that her heart rate was indeed abnormally high and that something was definitely not right. "When I got to the hospital, they did a series of tests and found that I had blood clots in both lungs," Lauder said.
Turns out, these blockages were causing her heart to work a lot harder to circulate blood, which is why it was beating so fast. "My heart had enlarged to about 65% beyond its (normal) capacity," she explained. Her doctor, Dr. JuYong Lee, director of vascular and endovascular medicine at UConn Health Calhoun Cardiology Center said that: "Because of the clot, initially, the pressure in her right ventricle was very dilated and not functioning well."
Thankfully, Lauder was clot-free within a day. "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—a realization her doctor agrees helped save her life. "I think the FitBit actually helped her decide whether or not this was a serious condition at that time," Dr. JuYong told CNN. "This condition is very critical, and she may have actually died if she had not sought medical attention." (Related: Jogger Fights Off Attacker Mid-Run and Her FitBit Documented It All)