Most people would consider athletes the healthiest members of society and, while the assumption may not be accurate from a medical perspective, it is logical. After all, competitive athletes exercise regularly and more rigorously than the average person, and they likely have better eating habits as part of their fitness regimens. Naturally, their strenuous routines make them susceptible to common injuries, but athletes can also suffer from much more serious health issues, some of which can even lead to loss of life.
In fact, of all athlete deaths, 75% are the result of Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) and, in the U.S., a young competitive athlete dies every three days. While that’s a small fraction of the more than 360,000 SCA-related deaths annually, it shows that nobody is immune to the underlying causes of cardiac failure. Even screening exams may not accurately identify at-risk athletes. According to a recent study of SCA in athletes, less than 20% of cases would have been predicted with preventative screening.
Connected health technologies, like Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM), however, offer ways for all patients – not only athletes – and physicians to more effectively identify and treat patients exhibiting heart rate irregularities or other potential signs of cardiac problems.
Wearable activity trackers
Smart watches, dedicated activity trackers and other wearable devices have grown in popularity and there are many that are able to monitor and track heart rates and transmit data to patients’ electronic health records. Connected health systems can be set to monitor those results and alert patients and physicians when specific thresholds are exceeded or when anomalies are detected. Physicians are then able to immediately contact patients for further analysis and to set an in-person visit, if necessary. This can help identify potential health risks that may have been previously undetected.
Remote cardiac monitors
For at-risk patients, such as those with identified cardiac irregularities or other conditions that could be symptomatic of heart conditions, physicians may use medical-grade cardiac monitors. These are purpose-built to monitor and record heart activity, send that data to EHRs, and enable more detailed analytics. They also don’t leave gaps in monitoring because they don’t have to be removed for charging on a daily basis, making it easier to identify infrequent or intermittent symptoms and for continuously monitoring high-risk patients, including post-event or post-procedure patients to help reduce readmissions.
Mobile cardiac monitors
Paramedics and other first responders are able to use mobile cardiac monitors to measure heart functions and other vital signs immediately upon arriving on the scene of a medical emergency. The portability of these devices makes it easier for first responders to collect data, communicate information to healthcare providers and hospitals, receive informed advice on immediate treatment, and better prepare hospital staff for patients’ arrival.
While there may be many causes of SCA, some of which may not be evident when an incident happens, remote patient monitoring devices in many forms allow everyone from patients to physicians and emergency personnel to more effectively monitor and evaluate patients and prevent recurring or more damaging events.
To find out more about how remote patient monitoring and other connected health solutions can help deliver better patient outcomes, connect with us here.