A fitness tracker has garnered a lot of attention lately – not for its feature or how accurate the readings are – but how it managed to save the life of a 73-year-old US woman.
The story has its roots in a a 73-year-old woman in the US Patricia Lauder buying a fitness tracker with the aim of improving her health and losing weight. Lauder started using the tracker. A few weeks back she started feeling unwell and assuming that she might be suffering from bad cold or walking pneumonia she underwent a number of tests, all of which came out negative.
Things turned for the worse and she started experiencing shortness of breath and fatigue, while walking even very short distances in her own home. She noticed that her device was recording a rise in her usual resting heart rate of 68-70 beats per minute by five points a day. Then one day her heart rate spiked to 140 beats per minute.
Lauder called the ambulance, and was taken to the University of Connecticut’s John Dempsey Hospital in the US. A CT Scan showed that she was suffering from two large blood clots in her lung arteries. These clots, known as pulmonary embolisms, were causing her lungs and heart to be stressed and over-pressurised.
Her lung artery pressure spiked to 65, when 25 is normal, while her heart was over-working and had become enlarged. The mortality rate of a pulmonary embolism is over 30 per cent when it is massive, said JuYong Lee, who treated Lauder. These risky lung blood clots can over-pressurise the heart, leading the body’s blood pressure and oxygen level to drop significantly. The biggest risk factor for developing a pulmonary embolism is deep vein thrombosis, when a blood clot forms in a vein, most often in the leg, and can travel up to the lungs.