Wearable devices have revolutionized the exercise world, turning step-count into a household term and helping users become more aware of their activity levels. But now, tech companies are marketing some of these devices as potential lifesavers. See what we’ve uncovered on smartwatches designed to save their users’ lives.
Wearable devices initially became popular in 2016, when fitness trackers first started to trend. Early models were designed to help people get in better shape and lose weight, often tracking heart rate, steps taken and estimated energy burned. Of those three, heart rate is usually the most accurate, although readings can vary greatly between devices — so be sure to read reviews and accuracy rates if this is important for you.
More recently, researchers have explored different ways to fine-tune this technology to help people with concerns over their heart health monitor serious issues. Among their ideas, they’ve developed smart bras, earbuds and devices users can wear on their wrists.
Commercially, several smartwatches are available to help users track their heart health. Here are a few:
Controlled testing has shown reliability can vary between manufacturers and individual devices, so consumers may want to research each product independently to determine if they’re worth the investment. Some experts caution that no commercially available device can replace a medically approved Holter monitor. More time and research will be necessary before we can fully depend on this technology to save lives.
Smartwatches combine accessibility and convenience, offering applications we could only have dreamed of once. However, they do have their limits. Heart-tracking apps might work as added accessories to other diagnostics, but it might be a while before they’re reliable enough to trust with our lives. People concerned over potential heart disease complications should seek professional care rather than using their own devices at home. But we're over here dreaming of home-based body-worn scanners that tell us all of the useful data we dream of and catch things early to give us the best chance at health. Those days are coming — we hope.
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