No, Fitbit can’t detect a heart attack. In fact, no wearable can perform this function, as of now – but could be possible in the future.
Most Fitbits are equipped with heart rate tracking features. Plus, they help users identify signs of atrial fibrillation (AFib). But, when it comes to detecting heart attacks, the tech isn’t there yet.
With the above in mind, experts say that ECGs generated by smartwatches like Fitbit are up to 95% accurate at identifying and differentiating between different heart attacks. So, a doctor can use readings from your Fitbit as well as a traditional ECG to check if you’re at risk of having a heart attack.
Before you continue reading this article, if you show warning signs of a heart attack, seek help immediately. Don’t second guess yourself or check your smartwatch for proof. Contact 911 or call your doctor now!
Heart Rate Irregularities Could Point to Heart Disease
Got an unusually high heart rate reading on your fitness tracker but you’re just sitting on the couch? Don’t ignore those mysterious spikes, warns Dr. Felipe Lobelo of Emory University.
While a quickened pulse is normal during exercise, he explains that any heart rate jumps unrelated to physical activity could signal serious health concerns. Pay attention if those high numbers are also accompanied by palpitations, chest/back/belly/jaw/arm pain, lightheadedness, sleep disturbances, or shortness of breath.
“Those are signs and symptoms typical of cardiovascular disease,” says Lobelo. “Whether they come with or without your Fitbit showing weird data, I think those are important things to check with your doctor.”
The combination of unexplained heart rate spikes and other troubling symptoms is your body’s distress call. It’s crucial to seek medical care promptly to determine if the cause is an underlying heart condition or other cardiovascular issue requiring treatment. Don’t chalk it up to just a glitch with your fitness band. Listen to what your body is trying to tell you – it could save your life.
Does Fitbit Detect Irregular Heartbeats?
According to the CDC, around 0.5% of the global population has atrial fibrillation. On the other hand, studies indicate that approximately 1 in 2100 people experience ventricular arrhythmia. And, while most arrhythmias aren’t life-threatening, without treatment, they can aggravate and lead to severe health issues like cardiac arrest and heart failure.
That brings us to one important question: can Fitbit smartwatches detect irregular heartbeats?
Yes, a Fitbit can detect and record irregular. But this function is only available in Fitbits with the ECG feature. If your smartwatch has this app, it will analyze your heart rhythm while you’re asleep or awake, check for tell-tale signs of atrial fibrillation, and note down any weird occurrences.
To check if you are at risk of AFib, just open the Fitbit app on your smartphone, go to “Assessments & Reports”, and tap “Irregular Rhythm Notifications”. The app will present you with a list of irregular rhythm notifications and when they occurred.
How Accurate is the Heart Rate Tracking on a Fitbit?
The accuracy of heart rate tracking depends on the Fitbit you use. Different Fitbits have different degrees of accuracy and efficiency. For instance, according to a recent report, the Fitbit Charge HR is accurate approximately 84% of the time. But newer devices are slightly more accurate than older ones, courtesy of improved algorithms and sensors.
A Fitbit can also give you different heart rate readings for various reasons, including different hand or wrist positions. And if you wear your fitness tracker too tightly or with a loose fitting, the chances are high that it will give inaccurate readings.
Serious Health Issues, a Fitness Tracker Can Pick Up
Besides heart conditions, advanced fitness trackers can help individuals identify when they are at risk of developing serious health issues like:
Approximately 1.5 million yearly deaths are directly linked to diabetes. So, diabetes is undoubtedly a life-threatening condition. If you don’t want this disease to catch you unawares, a good smartwatch can help.
Take Fitbit fitness trackers as an example. With a supported Fitbit, you can track your blood sugar levels and identify when they spike too high or dip too low at the right time. That said, a wearable with blood sugar tracking features can’t replace an external monitor. Why? Presently, most fitness trackers display readings from conventional glucose monitoring systems.
No fitness tracker can detect sleep apnea by itself. But a good wearable like a Fitbit can give you access to information that you can use to identify sleep disturbances and themes that are indicators of potential sleep disorders like apnea. Let’s use Fitbit wearables as an example.
Most new Fitbit gadgets collect diverse data categories crucial in detecting and managing sleep disorders. But, no matter how advanced your Fitbit is, it will never alert you of or diagnose you with sleep apnea.
Read Also: Does Sleep Tracking Work on Airplane Mode?
Did you know that your fitness tracker can identify when you are at risk of kidney disease? That’s right. One of the tell-tale signs of kidney problems is an irregular heartbeat. And a good smartwatch should tell you when you have this issue. Once you identify it and go to a physician, they can test you for kidney disease.
This point may seem far-fetched, but it’s not. Smartwatches and fitness trackers have helped many detect kidney issues before they worsen. For instance, a few years ago, an Apple Watch notified an 18-year-old girl of her spiking heart rate and, by doing so, enabled her doctors to spot silent kidney failure and save her life.
Hypertension is another deadly disease. According to experts, this disease claims approximately 10 million lives annually. Luckily, there are fitness trackers that have sensors and algorithms for measuring blood pressure. Such gadgets are indispensable in detecting hypertension.
Consider Fitbit wearables as an example. Today, many Fitbits use a force and PPG sensor to calculate heart rate readings and estimate blood pressure. With the data from a Fitbit, you can notice signs of spiking blood pressure and seek help from a practitioner before your condition worsens.
To summarize, no smartwatch or fitness tracker can detect a heart attack. If you notice any symptoms of having a heart attack, don’t expect your wearable to support or refute your suspicion. Don’t even check the readings from your gadget. Stop whatever you are doing and contact emergency services.
But that doesn’t mean your smartwatch is useless. A good device can help you identify and manage other health issues, including arrhythmia, diabetes, and hypertension. But to enjoy this perk, you must have a gadget with all the right features, including heart rate monitoring and blood glucose tracking.
What symptoms might indicate you’re having a heart attack?
Key symptoms are chest pain/discomfort, shortness of breath, pain in the arms/back/neck/jaw, lightheadedness, clammy sweating, nausea, and an abnormally elevated or irregular heart rate.
Should you rely on your Fitbit if you have heart attack symptoms?
Absolutely not. Fitbit cannot detect or confirm a heart attack. Immediately call emergency services if you experience heart attack symptoms. Timely treatment is critical for survival and recovery.
Could looking back at your Fitbit data help diagnose a heart attack?
Potentially. Doctors may review heart rate data after the fact to pinpoint when irregularities began. But Fitbit cannot diagnose or detect heart attacks and is not a substitute for medical testing.
Can other wearable devices detect heart attacks?
Not currently. No consumer wearables on the market can actively detect or diagnose heart attacks or other dangerous heart events. However, research is underway on enabling early heart attack detection.
What’s the best way to detect heart health issues?
Get regular checkups, know your risk factors, learn heart attack symptoms, and seek emergency care if you experience any. Wearables can only supplement medical exams, not replace them. Talk to your doctor about your heart concerns.