Sales of smartwatches are booming. The number of watches shipped in 2019 was 47 million and expected to grow to more than 117 million by 2025. Smartwatches can support your fitness goals, track workouts and monitor heart health.
As technology evolves, the medical applications for smartwatches are set to expand. Some manufacturers have created smartwatches to monitor specific health conditions such as diabetes or blood pressure. App developers are creating smartwatch apps geared for the medical industry. Look closer at how smartwatches can monitor and detect health risk factors so the wearer can prevent more serious health issues before they happen. There’s just one caveat — a smartwatch may be able to detect health issues, but inaccurate readings may be a possibility. Wearable tech should not replace monitoring and guidance from a physician.
One of the most robust features of smartwatches including the Apple Watch, Fitbit, and Garmin is their ability to monitor heart rate. The Apple Watch 4 series is the first of its kind to include an FDA-approved ECG sensor that paired with an app, can detect atrial fibrillation. Depending on the app, the collected data can be shared so your physician can watch for arrhythmia, negative reactions to drugs which could cause a rapid heartbeat, the early signs of a heart attack, and more.
The heart data your smartwatch collects can also provide early warnings of an impending stroke. More than 100,000 strokes per year are caused by atrial fibrillation. Monitoring for changes in heart activity can reduce the chance of a stroke before it’s too late.
There are smartwatches on the market exclusively designed to measure blood pressure. They could work as a secondary measure for individuals who need to check their blood pressure frequently, but should never replace regular readings from a nurse practitioner, doctor, or BPM. The wrist band works like a blood pressure cuff. The wearable tech is more convenient than a blood pressure machine because you don’t have to stop what you’re doing to get your blood. However, using a home blood pressure reader can provide you with the most accurate readings.
The K’Watch is a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) that can track glucose levels without drawing blood. The smartwatch replaces uncomfortable poking with a disposable pad underneath the watch that comes into contact with the skin to measure blood glucose levels painlessly. The disposable pad lasts for a week. Blood sugar level reports and graphs can help a wearer review their glucose level trends throughout the day.
One of the biggest dangers a senior faces is a fall. The National Council on Aging reports that “Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for older Americans.” As people age, their bones become more brittle. Tripping and falling can lead to a broken rib or hip or worse and/or the inability to get up after the fall. Fortunately, most smartwatches come with a fall detector that can signal for help.
Besides a general-purpose smartwatch, there are subscription-based medical alert services available. The services have representatives on watch 24/7 ready to send help if a customer falls or feels unwell. Many of the smartwatches provided with the monitoring service have two-way communication available so the senior and the representative can communicate with each other until help arrives.
Stress, panic attacks, anxiety, and other mental health factors can affect a person physically, as well as negatively impacting their quality of life. Struggling with any of the issues mentioned can lead a person to feel isolated as they seek solace away from others, potentially worsening the condition. There are wellness apps available for smartwatches that help wearers overcome stress and increase wellbeing through guided meditation and relaxation techniques.
The types of apps available to aid in mental wellbeing include:
- Meditation apps
- Sleep apps
- Yoga apps
- Anxiety and depression management apps
Smartwatches for Health
Smartwatches are the most popular form of wearable tech and can help monitor existing conditions as well as uncover new ones. They offer wearers a variety of features such as workout, fitness, wellness, and medical monitoring apps. As consumers continue to buy smartwatches, manufacturers and app designers will expand the medical and health features.