Researching the life-saving potential of ‘wearable tech’

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Calgary researcher tests possibly life-saving wearable technology
WATCH ABOVE: Fit Bits and other wearable technologies have become very popular in recent years, but could these wearable devices actually save your life? A new local study is looking to find out. Heather Yourex-West reports. – Mar 14, 2016

CALGARY – Calgary researchers are testing the life-saving potential of a wearable tech device that measures heart rate variability (HRV).

“Heart rate variability gives us a window into the body’s entire physiological functioning,” says Dr. David Liepart, an Alberta Health Services anesthesiologist and lead investigator in the study.

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Heart rate variability monitors are different than heart monitors because they are able to measure heart beats down to the millisecond and can provide health professionals with the same type of information they’d receive from an electrocardiogram.

Liepart’s research is looking at how these devices can help monitor patients as they recover from surgery.

“You’re going to go basically one of two ways: you’re going to get healthier or you’re not going to get healthier.”

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Post-operative complications like infections can be very dangerous for patients; sepsis is a leading causes of hospital death in Canada. But Liepart says HRV monitoring may be able to bring those numbers down.

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“There is actually some really, really good data in people that are going into profound septic shock that heart rate variability monitoring will alert you 18 hours before anything else does,” said Liepart

The four-month study will track both heart rate variability measurements and the health outcomes for 20 healthy people and 40 intensive care unit patients.  Liepart hopes the results of this small study will lead to larger-scale studies in the future.

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