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Fitbit Alerts Woman to Life-Threatening Condition

Most of us purchase a fitness tracker to count our steps, check how many calories we’ve burned and keep an eye on our progress — including monitoring our heart rate while exercising and at rest. And it looks like we can now add one more crucial benefit to these wearable health gadgets.

Patricia Lauder, a 73-year-old retiree from Harwinton, Connecticut, has her Fitbit to thank for alerting her to a potentially life-threatening condition. Lauder originally purchased her tracker to help monitor her steps while she walked, but when her resting heart rate continued to climb by around five beats per minute every day, she knew something was seriously wrong.

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Lauder’s resting heart rate had previously been below 70, but she had also been experiencing shortness of breath and feelings of exhaustion. According to, Lauder had been battling a sinus infection and suspected a case of walking pneumonia. After several doctor visits, she was awaiting the results of diagnostic tests to determine the cause of her symptoms.

“Finally, my resting heart rate got to the point where a simple chore was a big effort,” she said.

Realizing that her Fitbit might actually be warning her of a potential health threat, Lauder called 911 and was taken to the emergency department at UConn John Dempsey Hospital, and it was during the ride there, that the first responders confirmed what she suspected — that her tracker’s heart rate of 140 was accurate.

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After a series of tests, her doctors discovered she had blood clots in both lungs and immediately treated her.

Dr. JuYong Lee, director of vascular and endovascular medicine at UConn Health Calhoun, told news station, KFOR, “I think the Fitbit actually helped her decide whether or not this was a serious condition at that time,” Lee said. He noted that several of his patients wear fitness trackers, but in this situation, it could have been lifesaving.

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