How Reliable Are Wristwatch Health-Tracking Apps?

Around 450 types of wearable devices, including watches, wristbands and rings, compile data about the number of steps taken, along with temperature, heart rate, sleep patterns and oxygen saturation, which can be downloaded to nearly a half million apps or other computer programs and sent to healthcare providers.


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Some devices can even generate an EKG. This represents a field that is “expanding by the minute and will likely be integrated with medical care,” says Carol Karmen, MD, Medical Director of the Internal Medicine Outpatient Practice at Westchester Medical Center, in Valhalla.

Healthy patients should take about 10,000 steps per day – more if they’re trying to lose weight. People with underlying medical conditions should see a physician before starting any exercise program. “The technology is helpful if it allows patients to invest in improving their own health and healthcare,” she says.

However, the devices can cause anxiety if they indicate an abnormality like a rapid pulse or heartbeat, which can lead to further testing to reassure the patient that nothing is awry.


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