The Apple Watch and the Quantified Self: How I feel it will impact my health

The Apple Watch

For many individuals watching the mobile tech landscape, the announcement of Apple's version of the smartwatch comes as no surprise. While late to the game compared to its competitors, I have eagerly been waiting in trepidation for its arrival. I had earlier written about my view of the "Smartwatch Wars," and with the arrival of the Apple Watch I feel I have a side to choose. 

The Watch will come preloaded with a whole suite of health features, which I feel will be beneficial for many patients and those looking to monitor their daily activities, but for me there is one feature I am most interested in.

Tracking My Heart Rate

Last year, I collapsed in my bathroom, suffered a concussion, walked to work, and collapsed in front of my fellow faculty. I was rushed to the hospital, and worked up for the cause. I have no significant past medical history, and needless to say, it came as a shock. 

Kept for three nights, I was worked up for a stroke, seizure, infection, and other issues. Cardiology was convinced it was neurologic. Neurology was convinced it was cardiac. On the third day of tests, I was allowed to get up and walk, whereupon the telemetry monitors blared and alerted everyone my heart rate  (HR) had jumped from a nice 80 BPM to 160 BPM in a minute. 

Some people drink coffee, I eat salt.

Some people drink coffee, I eat salt.

Further assessments, diagnostics, and it was determined I suffered from Postural Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS). This was based on chronic symptoms I had related, including bouts of fatigue, gastrointestinal disturbances, exercise intolerance, sleep disturbances and more. I had suffered a viral infection and was under stress for an upcoming conference, and it was thought that was what pushed me over the edge for my first exacerbation. Most likely I have had this issue for years. It explained alot, and frankly made me reflect on how I should do my utmost to try to prevent any further recurrence. 

Since that time, I have lived a high sodium diet (8-10g/day) and occasionally take salt tablets to keep my volume status elevated to stop myself from decompensating. I find myself routinely taking my pulse to be aware of any changes and if I am at risk, though so far I have had few incidences worthy of admission. 

Looking to Technology to Help

I love technology, it's why I write about it so much. I love the mobile health (mHealth) movement, and the idea of the quantified self. A few devices have sparked my interest, and I have tried a few to see if it would be beneficial. However, I tend to lose/break such devices as I have mentioned in the past. The other issue, is the devices often seemed designed for runners/exercise and their design always seemed out of place on my wrist. Ideally, I wanted something to wear all the time and had more use. As such, I have been holding out for smartwatches.

Ideally, I think the Apple Watch will be a device to fit alot of my needs. Sync to my iOS lifestyle for one, and the health benefits are encouraging. Perhaps I am pinning on the iOS developer market to make apps that will suit my style. But really, I am hoping to be able to track my heart rate, and lifestyle, and be able to identify when I am in trouble. 


I look forward to the day when I don't have to warn my students that if I pass out in class or in clinic to call the ambulance, and to being a bit more 'normal.'