Image source: Fitbit

Less than 1 in 5 people with heart disease wear a fitness tracker

A new study reveals a surprising finding. People with cardiovascular disease are less likely to wear a fitness tracker as compared to those without the condition. Which means people who need wearable self-monitoring devices more, do not use them enough.

Heart disease is a big problem. According to CDC statistics, in the US it accounts for about 1 in every 5 deaths. Someone dies of a heart disease every 34 seconds. This equates to around 700,000 deaths in the US per year.

The American Heart Association and the American College of Sports Medicine have found that being more active can help combat and manage heart disease. It turns out aerobic exercise combined with resistance training provides the most benefit. Exercise helps the heart.

And this is where fitness trackers can help. Unfortunately, people who need such devices do not use them nearly enough.


Wearable devices not embraced by those who need them most

The research was presented by the American Heart Association at its Scientific Sessions 2022 event. This was held from November 5th and 7th, in a combined virtual and in-person format in Chicago.

The study encompasses data from around 9,300 US adults. These are individuals who have responded to the Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS) in 2019 and 2020. Despite the rather small sample, they represent a decent representation of the overall American population. 

Stats show that an average of 29% of those interviewed use a Fitbit, Garmin, Apple Watch or some other form of wearable. Which is in line with other surveys which indicate that about 1 in 3 Americans use a fitness tracker.

Essential readingTop fitness trackers and health gadgets

However, amongst those with cardiovascular disease, this figure falls to only 18%. So well below the national average. And if we only look at those aged 65 and above, the figure declines even more – to only 12%.

About half of all people with cardiovascular disease are older than age 65 so this is an important finding. Granted, the lower usage was to be expected to an extent. Older folks are less likely to use a fitness tracker.

“We were surprised to find that people with cardiovascular disease were notably less likely than people without cardiovascular disease to use wearable devices, which suggests those who are most likely to benefit from these technologies appear to be less likely to use them,” says Lovedeep Dhingra, research fellow at Yale School of Medicine’s Cardiovascular Data Science lab. 

If the data is extrapolated to also capture those at risk of cardiovascular disease. About 26% of them use a fitness wearables. This, again, is below the overall average in the US.

Here are the stats in detail.


Willing to share data

Another interesting finding is that privacy of wearable data collected through self-monitoring does not seem to be an issue. About 4 in 5 of people at risk for cardiovascular disease said they would not object to sharing this type of information with their doctor.

Researchers conclude that more needs to be done to ensure wearable devices are embraced by those who need them the most. The group’s further efforts will be focused in the future on using information taken from wearables to improve health outcomes.

Link to abstract.

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