Health In Technology: Tech Devices To Facilitate Health Needs

Thursday, June 13, 2019 Article Image

Products that Monitor AFIB / Irregular Heart Rate

Apple Watch

The Apple Watch Series 4 is truly remarkable. A potentially life-saving feature we would like to highlight is the ability to take an electrocardiogram (ECG) test with the ECG app. An electrocardiogram test records the electrical activity of your heart. Doctors can then analyze that information to see if there are any irregularities in the heart rhythm, such as atrial fibrillation. In order to take an ECG test with your Apple Watch and ECG app, the first thing you should do is make sure that your iPhone is up-to-date with the latest version of iOS and that your Apple Watch is running the latest version of watchOS. Next, open the Health app in your iphone and set up the ECG app. To take an ECG, you must be wearing your Apple Watch on your wrist. While resting your arms in your lap or on a table, hold your finger on the Digital Crown and wait for 30 seconds. The ECG app will then record the data fed to it from the Apple Watch’s built-in sensors and let you know if your results are normal or if there is an irregular heart rhythm detected.

AliveCor/Kardia

Another device and app that allows the user to take a medical-grade ECG is AliveCor/Kardia. This device is compatible with most iOS and Android smartphones and tablets. To take an ECG, simply open the app on your phone or tablet, tap “record,” place the device next to your phone, and put your fingers on the pads. In 30 seconds you will receive your ECG results.

Glucose Monitoring

Diabetes is a medical condition in which the body has high levels of blood sugar over a prolonged period of time. According to the American Diabetes Association, over 30 million Americans (9.4% of the total population) suffer from this metabolic disorder. Diabetes is the 7th-leading cause of death in the United States -- it is a serious disease. Thankfully, Type 2 Diabetes (also known as “Adult-Onset Diabetes”) is both preventable and treatable with the proper diet, exercise, monitoring of blood sugar levels, and medication. As technology advances, so do the devices that allow you to manage this disease.

OneDrop
One interesting product we have been following is the One Drop Blood Glucose Monitoring Kit. This kit contains a Bluetooth blood glucose meter, lancing device, test strips, a personalized diabetes coaching program, and a mobile app for smartphones and Apple Watch. The mobile app receives and analyzes data from the meter wirelessly via Bluetooth and tracks glucose levels, medication, food, and activity. The app then creates a report for the user that can predict trends as well as notify you when a drop or spike in blood sugar levels occurs. Not only will the One Drop app monitor your glucose levels, it will also send you reminders to take your medication, assist with meal planning, and track your exercise routine. Although living with diabetes can be difficult, technology is helping to ease some of the burdens that people face in monitoring their sugar levels.

Hearing Loss

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), hearing loss is one of the most common conditions affecting older people. Nearly 33% of the population between the ages of 65 and 74 have hearing loss, and that number jumps to 50% in people 75 and older. One of the major causes of hearing loss in the developed world is presbycusis, or “hearing loss associated with the cochlear degenerative process of aging.” Learn More

People who experience hearing loss often experience a reduction in their quality of life. Communication difficulty can affect relationships, cause a loss of self esteem, affect one’s ability to work, create anxiety, and lead to depression. It can also be dangerous. People who experience hearing loss may not be able to hear an alarm, communicate well with doctors, hear the doorbell or telephone, or hear a siren while driving. Thankfully today, technology is leading the way in improving people’s hearing and quality of life.

A Brief History of Hearing Aids

Hearing aids have been around for a very long time. As early as the 1300s, people who suffered from hearing loss were fashioning horn-shaped devices to funnel sound into the ear. These primitive ear horns were originally made of hollowed-out animal horns or shells.

By the 18th century, people had begun using an ear trumpet for hearing assistance. These devices were made out of sheet metal or silver and were, as the name suggests, shaped like a trumpet. They were bulky and came in many shapes and sizes. They also did not work all that well, but were the only option available until the early 1900s.

The next step forward in the timeline of hearing aids came with the invention of the carbon microphone in the early 1900s. This was the first step in harnessing electricity, along with the telephone concept, to amplify sound to assist with hearing. Unfortunately, these devices did little to help people with severe hearing loss.

The 1920s to 1940s saw the invention of the vacuum tube. This hearing device was an improvement for people with more severe hearing loss. However, it was still very bulky and required a battery pack that attached to the person’s clothing or fit in their pocket with wires attached to the hearing device.

The 1950s brought us the invention of the transistor hearing aid. This is what many people had been waiting for. Analog technology allowed for a more discreet hearing aid that fit inside the ear or attached behind the ear. These types of devices were very popular and can still be found on the market today.

1980s - Present Day

It is an amazing time to be alive! We are witnessing an explosion in technology that will enhance the lives of those who suffer from hearing loss. Gone are the cumbersome hearing aids that sat behind the ear. Today’s hearing aids have sleek modern designs, come equipped with Bluetooth capability, and can connect to your smartphone.

So, what exactly is Bluetooth and how has it transformed hearing aids? Bluetooth technology allows computers, smartphones, and other devices to communicate wirelessly via short-range radio waves. Hearing aids with Bluetooth capability allow you to take a phone call, listen to the television, and stream music or other audio directly to your hearing aid while filtering out background noise. This technology even allows the wearer to personalize their hearing aids -- for example, you could program one hearing aid to stream music or connect to your smartphone while the other hearing aid picks up sounds in the environment.

Industry leaders in hearing aid manufacturing have developed products that work with both Apple and Android phones. Today, using a smartphone app, you can control the settings and adjust the volume of your hearing aid from the comfort of your home. Phonak is one company that offers innovative and stylish hearing aid technology.

 

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