Health Technology That Can Help Your Heart!
We all know how to help our hearts – exercise regularly, add new heart-healthy ingredients into our meal plan, and work to reduce our stress levels. But with the many advancements in health technology, there is so much more we can do!
According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, over 80% of heart disease and stroke diagnoses can be prevented through a change in healthy behaviours? For years heart disease was labelled as the “silent killer” because of its sudden onset. But now, with recent innovations and advancements in the area of cardiology, we have been presented with opportunities to identify early risk factors and symptoms and act to prevent or treat heart disease. It was found by the Government of Canada that “heart disease incidence rates declined in Canada between 2000-2001 and 2012-2013” from 45% to 35%. It is this decrease in heart disease events that are evidence towards early detection and prevention – and our health technology has a big part to play in that statistic.
Take a look at the different types of health technology that can help your heart and assist you in living a long and healthy life.
Fitbit Versa, Apple Watch, and Angel
Exercise is one of the primary factors determining whether we have good heart health. Those who live a sedentary lifestyle often are at higher risk for developing heart disease. Even for those patients who have suffered a heart attack or cardiac arrest, exercise is the best thing they can do to boost their well-being.
The smart watch is not a new health technology, but it has been upgraded for the heart. Both the Fitbit Versa, the Apple Watch, and the Angel are a band-styled device worn around your wrist that tracks every single move you make. The devices track how active you are, how fast you are going, whether you are doing different types of exercise, and even how much restful sleep you get!
Each of these devices offer heart monitoring – showing you how fast your heart is beating during exercise to find those areas for peak performance. As well, the devices identify if there are any concerns with your heart health that may require further attention (ex. arrhythmia, too fast of heart beat, etc.). Use the Fitbit Versa and Apple Watch smart watches to track your fitness, communicate with your friends and family, organize your day, and play your music! If you are simply seeking a band that helps only your health, the Angel not only monitors your heart but, using temperature sensing, can detect ovulation as well as alert if your body temperature is above or below a normal level. In addition, the Angel can track blood oxygen levels which may be monitored through an app on your phone! Use these devices to stay on top of your health and stay in tip top shape!
Blood Pressure Monitor
When someone is at risk for high blood pressure (hypertension), monitoring blood pressure at home is important to watch for, and hopefully intervene in, dangerous blood pressure levels. These home monitoring devices help to:
- Diagnose high blood pressure
- Keep you aware of your heart health
- Determine your risk of problems in the future
- Assess how treatment is affecting your blood pressure
There are a wide variety of blood pressure monitors available, some featuring arm cuffs, wrist cuffs, or finger pulse oximeter and blood pressure readers. If you have a history of high blood pressure in your family or are concerned for your heart, speak to a doctor about whether or not blood pressure monitoring or other health technologies would be a good option for you.
‘Cardiology’ – there’s an app for that.
There are so many apps available at our fingertips; as they say, ‘there’s an app for that!’ – entertainment, food tracking, productivity, and health. Of the many apps we can find in the AppStore or Play Store, some are specific to your heart health, working alongside you to improve your health. A simple search for ‘heart health’ will come up with a multitude of solutions that can help to:
- Track your heart beat (Kardia App – see the next health technology listed!)
- Analyze your blood glucose – Diabetes managment (Dario Health App)
- Calm yourself in times of high stress (Calm or Headspace app)
- Determine how/when you should push yourself when exercising (apps linked to heart rate monitors such as Fitbit, Apple Watch or Angel)
- Find recipes that are heart-healthy
- And more!
Check out our blog for the best heart health apps for each category!
AliveCor – Kardia EKG
Electrocardiography (EKG or ECG) is the process of monitoring your heart’s electrical activity while it is at rest. An electrocardiogram is often done in the hospital or at a doctor’s office to determine your heart’s overall functioning, but with recent health technology advancements like the AliveCor Kardia – an EKG can be used at home daily!
With 6 different views of your heart all you have to do is sit down and be at rest, open the Kardia app, and record your heart by placing your fingers on the EKG pads. After roughly 30 seconds of analysis, your results will be sent directly to your phone indicating how your heart is doing – whether there is possible fibrillation, arrhythmia, or other problems detected. This small piece of technology is the perfect solution for any individual with heart disease, giving them the confidence and knowledge necessary to monitor their own heart!
Although we do everything possible to keep our hearts healthy, sometimes emergencies will still happen. It is proven that cardiac arrest can happen to any person, of any age, at any level of health. It is for this reason that being prepared in the event of a cardiac arrest or heart emergency is crucial. You never know when someone may need immediate medical attention, and an AED is just the type of health technology that can assist.
An AED (automatic external defibrillator) is used in the event of a cardiac arrest where someone’s heart is beating in a sporadic rhythm (arrhythmia). This causes the person to become unconscious and stop breathing. It is in these situations that the person requires an electric shock to urge the heart into beating normally once more. The best thing about this piece of technology is that when an AED is nearby, the chances of survival of an individual will DOUBLE! Having an AED readily available is one of the best things any household, office building, worksite, community centre, fitness centre, or any other public location can do to prepare for a heart emergency.
Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators
Those who suffer from heart disease that results in arrhythmia benefit greatly from an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD). ICDs are small defibrillators that are surgically placed within a person’s chest to prevent against arrhythmia. If an individual’s heart begins to beat in an unnatural rhythm, the always-monitoring ICD will automatically detect this and correct it by sending out a small electric pulse to the heart. Want to see how an ICD works? Take a look at this video by the British Heart Foundation explaining everything you need to know about an ICD!
Not only will an ICD make small corrections if necessary, but it will send information to be remotely monitored, allowing for review of any problems or concerns. In more advanced and recent ICDs, a pacemaker can also be attached to the device for those with more serious problems. It is this kind of health technology that is able to save a life with minimal effort from the individual!
Using these health technology solutions, now more than ever, we have the opportunity to manage our heart health to the best of our ability. The earlier we start to pay attention to that pumping organ inside our chest, the longer lives we can live!