How My Fitbit (Possibly) Saved My Life

I got my Fitbit Charge HR in January of this year and have been obsessed with it ever since. I love the damn thing. The sister has one, too, and we chat all the time about our step goals and calorie goals and how well we slept.

I am aware, 100% aware, that the Fitbit Charge HR is not a medical device that doctors use for diagnostic or evaluative purposes. I know this. Please understand that I know this.

But I am involved with my Fitbit Charge HR. Checking my stats has become part of my daily routine.

When I first noticed, because of the Fitbit Charge HR,  that my resting heart rate seemed low, I asked the fiance about it. I am  banned from not comfortable researching any sort of medical issue on the internet, and so the fiance read a little bit about resting heart rates and we decided I was most likely getting an erroneous low read out and also that maybe my hard work in the gym was paying off. (But probably just an incorrect read out.)

I didn’t think very much more about my resting heart rate for a while, to be honest. Months and months went by and, although I struggled to get my heart rate up in the gym, I just assumed I wasn’t working hard enough. See picture below. 9 weeks ago.
IG heartrate post

I felt very frustrated because I really pushed myself in the gym, like harder than ever, to the point that by the time I made it back to my desk at work (I work out on my lunch break) I could barely move. When I did cardio, I sprinted to the point where I gasped for breath. I wanted to burn the calories and I wanted the Fitbit to register my intense workout and that just simply wasn’t happening.

I’ve always struggled with that in the gym, though. I always felt really tired, even if I took a (gasp) pre-workout. I never had the energy levels that other people seemed to have but I never thought much of it.

But enough with my background.

About a month ago, I started having dizzy spells. I would feel very faint, cold, and completely depleted of energy.  I  felt so drained when these spells occurred that it seemed like I was trying to move through sand. I couldn’t focus. Everything felt blurry. This wouldn’t last all day, but it started happening multiple times daily, and I started to freak out.

The fiance and I couldn’t figure out what was causing these spells. I never fainted. (I have fainted twice before – both times over 5 years ago.) It wasn’t my blood sugar, because eating didn’t help. It wasn’t lack of sleep, because I am old now and go to bed at a decent hour. It wasn’t temperature related. It was scary, though.

The fiance finally came back around to asking about my heart rate when this happened. According to my Fitbit, I was in the high 40’s or low 50’s in terms of beats per minute. Really low, guys. Really low. We went back and looked at my average daily heart rate since I started wearing the Fitbit, and this time we thought: This doesn’t look okay.

I started to freak out, again, and for multiple reasons.

  1. I freak out about anything medical. Simple as that.
  2. One of my very best friends passed away from a heart attack very, very young.
  3. The mom also suffered a near fatal heart attack as an adult.
  4. The dad suffered a stroke and I thought he might also possibly have heart issues.

I felt the fiance and I weren’t overreacting, especially considering my symptoms.

Here are some snippets from my Fitbit:

IMG_7057 (1) (2) IMG_7056IMG_7028 IMG_7029  IMG_7031   IMG_7034 IMG_7035 

I do have a tendency to go to the doctor for no reason, but this time it seemed warranted. So I made a doctor’s appointment.

The doctor did an EKG and, as it turns out, I have Bradycardia, an unusually slow heartbeat.

The doctor also ordered all sorts of blood tests to determine if there was an obvious underlying cause for the Bradycardia, like my thyroid. After a few days of waiting (and panicking but pretending not to panic) I got the call that my blood tests came back just fine.

I have Bradycardia and we don’t know why.

I found this to be unacceptable. Because of my family history, and because I lost someone very important to me due to cardiac issues, I asked for a referral to a cardiologist. Sometimes Bradycardia is just…happening… and there are no issues and no treatment is needed. But I felt exhausted and extremely weak randomly throughout the day, and I don’t want to feel that way anymore, so I asked for the referral.

The mom has only great things to say about her cardiologist, so I requested a referral to him, but first I was required to wear a Cardiac Event Recorder for two weeks.

The recorder was shipped directly to my house. The fiance then assisted me with putting it on correctly.

And, as of today, I have worn it for two weeks. Check. Done. IMG_7007IMG_7006

I’m not exactly sure how anyone could wear this thing for more than two weeks. It clunks and bangs around while you have it on, the wires get hooked on everything, the goo leftover from the patches is disgusting, and you can’t roll around while you sleep.

Don’t get me wrong, I feel super glad that I wore the recorder and hopefully it will give me some answers. But it was a struggle.

I send the recorder back today, and will call the doctor and schedule a follow-up and a consultation with a cardiologist.

My Fitbit Charge HR alerted me to a health issue and is ultimately what led me to make the initial doctor’s appointment that started this whole journey. I knew I loved the damn thing, but I never knew that keeping such a close eye on the data it provides could be so beneficial.

Maybe this Bradycardia issue will be nothing, but it is probably something, and without the Fitbit I don’t know that I would have ever recognized my low heart rate.

I just wanted to track my steps and calories. I ended up stepping myself right over to a cardiologist.

I still have no answers. Hopefully the cardiologist can help me determine what’s happening and what I need to do, if anything, to fix it. Until then, I will keep a close eye on the Fitbit Charge HR and, as always, I will keep everyone posted.


8 thoughts on “How My Fitbit (Possibly) Saved My Life

  1. Pingback: Review: FitBit Charge HR | Musings of the Average Millennial

    • I went to the cardiologist and they reviewed everything (including the monitoring results) with me and determined I have an irregular, slow heartbeat and that I have an inverted t-wave. They scheduled a stress echo for me. I had to postpone the test because my insurance would not cover any of the procedure — my cardiologist was not happy with that decision but stated I shouldn’t be in any immediate danger if I postponed the test. I have new insurance starting in January and will be reporting back to the cardiologist to have the stress echo done.


  2. I have the same heart rate as you, and i am over weight. But my doctors were not concerned. They told me that unless it goes in the 30’s i shouldn’t worry, and that’s coming from 2 doctors, of course i worry cause at night it drops to the upper 40’s and it’s scary. Do you ever feel dizzy?


  3. How did you get on? I’m waiting on 24 hour ECG my average resting heart rate is 48 on the Fitbit and around 40 to 45 at night, it used to be in the 50s. When it dips to 45 to 47 during the day I feel very lethargic. Hopefully it’s my BP meds that are causing the problem and I can get them changed. Am now drinking strong coffee to keep me moving instead of decaffeinated like before.


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