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Friday, 08 January 2016 (3074390)
by Ollie Cowan

A SOUTHPORT teenager's life was saved after her fitness tracking wristband alerted her to the fact she was having serious cardiac problems.

Eighteen year old Sarah McIntosh was delighted when her parents bought her a FitBit Surge Activity tracking wristband for Christmas - but little did she know how vital the equipment would be just a matter of weeks later.

After suffering from heart palpitations in the middle of the night on January 5, Sarah thought nothing more of it after they went away - but the very next evening things took a turn for the worse.

While studying for an exam for her Criminology and Criminal Justice Course at Edge Hill University, Sarah again felt her heart start to race and her FitBit wristband alerted her to the fact that her heart rate had shot up to a potentially fatal 220 beats per minute - three times the normal rate of a healthy eighteen year old.

Concerned, Sarah called the NHS helpline who immediately instructed her to phone for an ambulance. When she was taken to hospital doctors discovered Sarah suffered from a previously unknown heart defect - making Sarah's heart work so fast it would appear she was running a marathon while lying down.

If left untreated the defect could have led to a potentially fatal cardiac arrest. Now Sarah wants to let others know of the potentially life saving benefits of wearing an activity tracking health wristband.

She told The Champion: “I received my Fitbit Surge off my parents for my Christmas present - I wear it all the time even when I sleep.

”So in the early hours of January 5, I woke up at 4:00am with sharp stabbing pains in my chest and I was very out of breath, but it went away after 40 minuets or so and I thought it was one of those things and dismissed the issue.

“However the next night I was at uni revising for my exam when I felt my chest starting to hurt and I found it hard to breathe and I had pressure on my chest like someone had their hand on my chest and was pressing down hard.

”I could feel my heart beating very fast in my chest but I had my Fitbit on and my heart rate kept increasing from about 84bmp to exactly 210bmp in about half an hour and wouldn't decrease to no less then 190bpm.

“I phoned up the NHS helpline and they said to call an ambulance service to rush me to Southport hospital immediately.

”When the first response crew came they took all my vital signs and everything was clear but they said my FitBit was correct and that my heart rate was dangerously high - three times the normal rate it should be.

“As soon as I got to hospital they hooked me on all these machines and did some blood tests and they have found an issue with my heart.

”Apparently one pathway from one chamber to the heart from the other was misfiring and instead of the chambers beating one after another like it normally should, they were beating at the exact same time, which was causing my heart rate to increase. “They had used shock to try and reset it but in the end, they had to use this medication, which reacts within 10 seconds to force the heart to slow down along with the rest of my body.

”For the first time that day I could get a full breath and I felt a lot better.

“My heart rate convulsed and started to gradually reduce.

”Doctors were very concerned about me as a healthy, active 18 year-old girl who doesn't drink, smoke or take any drugs and exercises regularly shouldn’t have a heart rate as high as 210bmp.

“They said my body was running a marathon without me using my legs.

”My Fitbit was still on me at this time and it displayed how many calories I had burned and it was close to 4,000 in a day when I normally burn just under 1600 a day.

“The doctors said that if I hadn't phoned for an ambulance when I did and if I wasn't wearing my Fitbit to track my heart rate, I may have suffered a fatal heart attack.

”So thanks to FitBit, it saved this 18 year-old girls life! “I thought this story would send a message that even healthy adults who do everything they can for their health still need to keep an eye on it as anything can happen.

”This device prevented something serious and I feel like everyone should invest in one as you can’t put a price on life.“

Sarah is now asking for people to donate to the British Heart Foundation to fund further research into cardiac issues and potentially life saving treatments.


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