Fitbit Helps Save Patient’s Life

UConn Doctor checks patient's heart


This January, Patricia Lauder of Harwinton, Connecticut, had an illness she just couldn’t shake. Visits to doctors, testing, and X-rays came back negative for pneumonia or any other health issues.

Lauder started experiencing shortness of breath and fatigue after walking short distances. She noticed that her Fitbit fitness tracker — which the 73-year-old purchased after retiring to help her get in shape — was showing her resting heart rate increasing by five points a day.

On the day her resting heart rate spiked to 140 beats per minute, she called an ambulance.

A CT scan at UConn John Dempsey Hospital revealed she was suffering from two large blood clots in her lung arteries, known as pulmonary embolisms.

According to Dr. JuYong Lee, director of vascular and endovascular medicine at UConn Health’s Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center, the mortality rate of a pulmonary embolism is more than 30 percent when it is massive.

Lee decided to intervene right away with an innovative, minimally invasive solution, applying clot-blusting drugs directly into the clots through a catheter.

The next day, Lauder’s blood clots were gone and her lung and heart health totally normalized.

“If I didn’t have a Fitbit on my wrist, I might not be here to tell my story,” Lauder says.


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