In The Future, These Health Trackers Will Know You’re Sick Before You Do

So you’ll know when to stock up on tissues and NyQuil.

A wearable health sensor, much like those on the market already used to track steps, heart rate and calories burned, may, in the future, be able to track more subtle changes in the body that could be indicators of an impending illness.

The vision outlined in a new study is a health dashboard that would track measurements such as oxygen in the blood, sleep patterns and skin temperature similar to the way vehicular dashboards track issues in a car. 

"In the future, you will have multiple sensors relaying information to your smartphone, which will become your health dashboard," Dr. Michael Snyder, senior author of the study and director of the Center for Genomics and Personalized Medicine at Stanford University in California, told Reuters. "Alerts will go off with elevated heart rate over your normal level and heartbeat abnormalities will be detected — these will enable early detection of disease, perhaps even before you can detect it yourself."

Snyder was one of 60 people who wore a health tracker that collected more than 250,000 measurements a day for the study. In total, researchers gathered more than 2 billion measurements.



dennizn / Shutterstock, Inc.
dennizn / Shutterstock, Inc.

In many cases, physiological changes occur before actual symptoms manifest. By monitoring vital signs more frequently than once a year at the doctor's office, patients could potentially be able to identify diseases in earlier stages when they are more easily treatable. 

For example, on a flight last year, Snyder noticed changes in his heart rate and oxygen levels that deviated from the pattern these measurements followed during previous flights.  Normally, his oxygen levels dropped during flight and his heart rate returned to normal after a small spike during takeoff, but they did not this time. A few days later, Snyder developed a fever and other symptoms. 

Snyder was eventually diagnosed with Lyme disease. However, because of his earlier measurements, he was able to self-diagnose, begin taking antibiotics and be on the path to recovery all before the official test results confirmed the disease.

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Cover image via Diego Cervo/ Shutterstock.com.

(H/T Huffington Post)

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