Patricia Lauder bought a fitness tracker to count her steps and help her lose weight.
"That was the main reason I bought the Fitbit initially, which was well over a year ago," she said.
But now, the 73-year-old credits the device with saving her life. A few months ago, she wasn't feeling well. She thought her sinus infection may have turned into pneumonia.
"I went to the doctors to have that checked out and that turned out to be negative," she said.
Then she noticed her resting heart rate on her Fitbit was climbing higher and higher every day. She had shortness of breath and her heart rate spiked to 140 beats per minute. She called an ambulance right away.
"When it finally got to the point where walking across the room was a major issue, I picked up the phone and knew I needed help," Lauder said.
Doctors at UConn Health in Farmington, Connecticut, did a CT scan and discovered a potentially deadly problem: two pulmonary embolisms or blood clots.
"That showed a large clot in the lung artery in both sides," said Dr. Juyong Lee of UConn Health.
Her heart was also enlarged. Dr. Lee says blood clots in the lung put a strain on the heart, causing blood pressure and oxygen levels to drop dangerously. Doctors gave Lauder clot-busting drugs right away. By the next day, her clots were gone.
Lauder says without her Fitbit, she may not be here to tell her story.
"It certainly helped me under the most recent circumstances," Lauder said.
Her lung and heart function returned to normal. She's now counting her blessings and back to counting her steps.
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