The September 17th issue of the Wall Street Journal had an article on the new health apps available for your computer, iPhone, laptop, etc. I thought a brief summary of some of their reports might be helpful in finding an application that would aid you in monitoring one or more health issues. These apps are designed to manage chronic illnesses, detect behavioral diseases and manage pain. Let’s start with one of the newest Apple devices—their new Series 4 Apple Watches that perform electrocardiogram readings (ECG’s) and notify users of irregular heart rhythms. This is one of the few devices cleared by the FDA, although they emphasize that this ECG app is not intended to replace traditional diagnosis methods; the data is for informational purposes only and shouldn’t be interpreted by the user. Another device—the KardiaBand watchband—also offers ECG capabilities and was cleared by the FDA. With smartphone-based ECG monitors, physicians can access recordings of a patient’s heart rhythms no matter where they are. They can also diagnose patients with intermittent episodes of atrial fibrillation (a-fib), which are hard to catch, and follow up on patients who have had ablations. Pretty impressive stuff.
For glucose monitoring, the FDA has authorized a sensor made by Dexcom that uses a sensor about the width of a human hair that sits just under the skin and detects glucose in the interstitial fluid. It generates an electrochemical signal that is read by a processor and converted to data that is sent to a Dexcom receiver, a smartphone or watch. This will be available in March 2019. For blood pressure monitoring, the standard has always been the “cuff” system. Now, new techniques are being developed that use smartphones. While not approved yet, one group has developed an iPhone app that guides fingertip placement and calculates blood pressure using optical and force sensors that are already built into some phones—one sensor for taking selfies and one for displaying a 3-D touch feature. The readings, so far, have been less accurate than the traditional cuff, but comparable to the finger cuff, which has been approved by the FDA. These are just a few ideas that are being developed. With early detection of a problem so important in preventing catastrophic medical problems, let’s hope that progress in these areas continues. Anything that can be done to reduce healthcare expenses could result in major improvements in family budgets and/or retirement funding.
Hunter Hayes, a Louisiana boy, has a new song out where he has a question for God that I think we have all asked at one time or another. The song is “Dear God” and some of the lyrics go like this: “You made a man this fragile, you made a heart that can break. You showed me the road less travelled for when I’m gonna run away. When everything I love just leaves, dear God, are you sure there’s nothing wrong with me? And why does my life have to hurt so much? Why can’t I find any piece of love? And why do I feel like I’m not enough? Dear God, are you sure that you don’t mess up? You still call it praying; all that I do is sit here cursing you, cursing your name again. The truth is it’s not even you; it’s just me that I’m up against. But you made me this; can we share the blame for this? You don’t mess up, I know you don’t mess up, I know this ain’t for nothing” (some lyrics out of order). If you tell me you have never doubted God’s touch in your life, I would find that hard to believe. But if you tell me that you doubted, prayed and opened your heart, ears and mind to His response, which always comes, then I would share my same experience with you. Life is good; it’s better with God in it.
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