What are you doing to monitor your health?
I’m not just talking about making healthy choices. You might think you’re eating right, doing enough exercise, sleeping properly, and living a healthy lifestyle, but without some way to monitor your health, you will never really know.
Think about it: just a few weeks ago, an ultra-fit NFL football player collapsed in the middle of a game due to a cardiac arrest . A man that was in the peak of his physical prime experienced a near-fatal cardiac event. How much more are we at risk?
It’s always worth keeping close track of your health and physiology to be aware of any problems before they become health-impacting or even life-threatening. Especially as we get older, it’s absolutely imperative that we go for our regularly scheduled physical examinations to catch any “warning signs” early on.
But there are other tools that can be used to watch for warning signs, tools that don’t depend on your regular doctor visits or yearly physicals.
Wearable technology is the latest and greatest in the world of biomedicine, and thanks to all the modern devices at our disposal, we can monitor our health on a daily basis, right from our personal devices.
Below, I’ll share with you the top 5 wearable technologies that you can use to keep a close eye on your physical health every day. These are game-changing devices that can make sure you’re always on top of your wellbeing and making the smart choices that will protect your body against disease and extend your lifespan.
Fitness trackers and smart health watches are pretty much everywhere in this modern day and age. In fact, it’s estimated that in 2021, there were around 202 million people owning and using smart watches , while around 533 million fitness trackers were shipped in just 2021 alone .
Fitness trackers are designed only to monitor certain aspects of your health: steps and distance traveled, calories burned, resting and average heart rate, max heart rate during exercise, etc.
Smart watches take it a step farther—they integrate with your smartphone to perform a wide range of functions (from answering/making calls to composing emails to browsing the internet)—but feature many or all of the functions in fitness trackers. Some even have additional functions, such as sleep quality analysis or stress monitoring. Condition-specific functions—such as fall detection or medication adherence—are also available.
What makes these devices so useful is that they’re integrated into your everyday life, just one more “smart device" that you’ll use in both personal and professional settings. The fact that they monitor your health and give you real-time feedback (and even personalized suggestions) on your daily health ensures that you’re always staying aware of and on top of your wellbeing.
Wearable biosensors can be used for a broad range of functions—monitoring everything from your heart rate to your temperature to your respiration rate to your rate of mobility.
These biosensors are often incorporated into self-adhesive patches that stick to your skin, making sure they remain in place while you go about your day and regular activities. All the while, they’re collecting the specific data they were designed for and relaying it to a compatible app or program on your smartphone. That data can then be analyzed by your doctor or a medical health professional for a real-time, up-close look on your health.
Wearable biosensors can be particularly useful for patients who need regular monitoring, as it can make the bioanalysis not only more comfortable, but also less of a hassle. The technology is useful for not only diagnosing conditions, but also monitoring the progression of those conditions in order to manage health.
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Electrocardiogram, or EGC, monitors are designed to monitor and record the electricity activity in your heart.
It may be designed in the form of a self-adhering patch (a wearable biosensor) or integrated into a compact device worn strapped to your chest. Whatever form it takes, the ECG monitor is intended to watch for heart issues, such as:
For those who are suffering from—or even just concerned about the possibility of—heart conditions, an ECG monitor can be a very useful addition to your daily life. It can not only track your heart’s function (analyzed via the electrical activity recorded) but also provide warning if cardiac problems exist or are threatening.
For those suffering from high blood pressure or hypertension, a wearable blood pressure monitor can be a game-changer. No longer do you need to wear a bulky blood pressure cuff; you can just wear the monitor at your wrist, and it will detect blood pressure to a clinical level by directly sensing it there.
Some blood pressure monitors are standalone devices with no other functions, while some are actually incorporated into general fitness trackers and heart rate monitors.
Using a wrist-based blood pressure monitor will make it much more convenient and comfortable to track your blood pressure, but can also provide more accurate readings. Self-measuring using a blood pressure cuff may lead to inaccurate readings if you place the cuff on your arm wrong or even if the cuff is the wrong size. The wearable blood pressure monitor constantly automatically collects data and streams it directly to your smartphone or whatever compatible device is being used to track it.
The information collected by the blood pressure monitor can help you be more aware of how your lifestyle (diet, exercise, and overall activity) are affecting your blood pressure. You can receive real-time updates when your blood pressure dips or spikes, making it easy to see exactly what you’re doing that may directly impacting your health. Much easier, then, to lower your risk of illness by doing the things that improve blood pressure and avoiding anything that affects blood pressure negatively.
For diabetics or pre-diabetics, a continuous glucose meter (or CGM) is a very useful alternative to the finger stick blood sugar test typically used to monitor blood sugar levels at home.
The CGM consists of two components: a sensor that is placed on or adhered to either your upper arm or stomach, where it takes measurements of the glucose levels in your intracellular fluid; and a transmitter that relays the data from the sensor to a specific receiving device, such as a smart watch, smartphone, or tablet.
The sensor will typically take readings every few minutes (3 to 10-minute intervals) and provide real-time updates on your current glucose levels. If your blood sugar is elevated or too low, it will trigger an alert.
The CGM is incredibly useful for helping you to manage your blood sugar levels, as well as be aware of what you’re doing (eating, exercising, drinking, smoking, etc.) that will affect your glucose. It can also let you know if you need to take more insulin or avoid certain foods.
All of this technology can be very useful in helping people manage their medical conditions, but even for those without current health problems, they may be the solution you need to stay on top of your wellbeing.
Remember: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Being proactive with your health and actively making healthy choices today based on data collected in real time by your wearable tech may offer you a way to avoid health problems down the line!
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