Technology Has Heart

As we near the end of February — American Heart Month — and begin to look toward spring, it’s a good time to reflect on a critical health issue in the United States: heart disease. At the Connect2Health FCC Task Pressure, our goal is to better enable the use of broadband and advanced technology to help consumers get well and stay healthy. Heart disease, affecting a growing number of Americans each year, is an area ripe just for innovative technology-based solutions to improve the management, treatment, and ultimate avoidance.

The critical nature of this endeavor requires little explanation for in the words of Aristotle, “the heart is the perfection of the whole organism. ” And yet, despite its philosophical and biological significance, according to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States for both males and females with over 600, 000 life lost each year. That accounts for an astonishing 1 in every 4 fatalities. Furthermore, 1 in 3 United states adults currently have some form of heart disease.

As a physician, I have seen the devastating effects of advanced heart disease first hand. From repeat hospitalizations because of poorly controlled heart failure in order to emergency surgeries for heart episodes, the impact of heart disease is certainly profound. Fortunately, however , I have also seen the promise of broadband-enabled solutions to better prevent and manage this disease.

Take for example, one successful application for advanced monitoring of congestive heart failure, an often difficult to manage situation. In the past, patients with advanced coronary heart failure were monitored either simply by frequent doctors’ office visits or in-home nursing care. These techniques are costly, both in time and money. And for many in rural communities, basically beyond a health provider’s achieve. Now however , patients with coronary heart failure can be monitored at home via daily weigh-ins and vital sign checks that get transmitted electronically to the patient’s care team. This enables the team to immediately detect sudden weight gains (a sign of fluid overload from badly controlled heart failure) and get involved before the condition worsens.

Or, consider the new collaboration in between Qualcomm Incorporated and Walgreens which will enable consumers to connect their digital health devices (like a wrist-worn blood pressure cuff) and automatically capture all their health data in one location. To motivate consumers to participate, they can earn rewards for signing up for various health-related programs and monitoring progress toward a goal. Another instance might be the stunning prediction manufactured by Singularity University professor and tech entrepreneur Vivak Wadhwa, who predicted in 2013 that within 2-3 years there would be an app which could diagnose heart health better than a cardiologist!

In the end though, the most effective approach to managing heart disease, would be to prevent it in the first place. The United states Heart Association and CDC offer several recommendations for prevention ranging from shedding pounds improvements to blood pressure monitoring. Again, broadband-enabled technologies, like the increasingly typical fitness tracker and other wireless displays, can help consumers embrace these recommendations by providing a much needed kick in the particular pants when they are tempted in order to stray from well-intentioned plans to get or stay active.

As we spring forward, many fascinating broadband enabled solutions currently can be found and many more are being developed, that assist consumers manage their heart health or help prevent this insidious disease from ever occurring. Listen to your own heart, find a tool that is best for you and take steps today to help the guts of a friend or loved one. In the process, the heart you save, just might be your own. For more information, see the Connect2Health FCC Heart Health Consumer Tip Sheet.

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