02.05.2014Personal Tech

American Heart Month - Tech to Use For Heart Health

February is American Heart Month, and whether you’re keeping tabs on your own health or want to learn how to save others in a heart-health emergency, help can be found in the palm of your hand thanks to technology.

Since strokes and heart attacks are unpredictable, it’s important to be able to access information quickly in the event of an emergency. Kassi Wessing, communications director at the American Heart Association in Des Moines, IA, said the Spot a Stroke F.A.S.T. app is a simple, yet critical tool to help identify the symptoms of a stroke:

F-face drooping

A-arm weakness

S-speech difficulty

T-time to call 9-1-1

“Users are also able to identify other symptoms of a stroke and call 9-1-1 directly from the app – two very important steps to getting a stroke victim to the hospital for treatment as quickly as possible to improve their recovery outcomes,” Wessing said.

In case of a suspected heart attack, the Hands-Only CPR app shows users how to administer first aid and walks them through the potentially life-saving steps that should be taken while waiting for help to arrive.

“This simple app shows you how to perform compressions on someone who has suddenly collapsed and even gives you a beat to follow so you know you are doing them at the correct rate,” Wessing said.

Maintaining heart healthy habits are, of course, a good way to prevent potential emergencies, and Wessing recommends starting with regular physical activity. The American Heart Association has created an app called the Walking Path, which allows users to create, find and track walking paths anytime, anywhere.

“Whether you’re looking for a quick, one-mile route to get in some exercise over your lunch break or you want to identify a long-distance route near your home, this app helps you find a path that fits your walking/running style,” Wessing said.

Other heart-helpful apps and smart accessories available include:

Instant Heart Rate Monitor: This cardiograph app measures your heart rate by analyzing blood flow on the tip of your finger. Results are instant, and heart rates are in real time.

HandyLogs Heart: A blood pressure and cholesterol tracker that monitors and helps maintain healthy levels. Results are shown with easy-to-visualize graphs.

iHealth Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor: This tool measures your blood pressure, heart rate and pulse wave. It then creates charts to track and compare blood pressure recordings. Results can be shared with family and your doctor.

Fitbit Flex Wireless Activity + Sleep Wristband: The Fitbit tracks the steps you’ve taken, the distance covered and the number of calories you’ve burned. It also monitors how well you sleep, which is when your body recovers from exercise.

Fitbit Aria Wi-Fi Smart Scale: This tool tracks your weight, body fat and body mass index. You can upload your stats via WiFi and share your success via your mobile device. You also can set goals, log meals and workouts.

“We encourage people to have an open dialogue with their healthcare provider to develop a plan that will work for them and their individual needs,” Wessing said. “Whatever is going to help you incorporate heart-healthy behaviors into your life and get you on the path to ideal cardiovascular health is a good step in the right direction.”

And if you currently aren't paying close attention to your heart health, we encourage you to use American Heart Month as a stepping stone to incorporate these suggested technologies into your life!

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