facebook linkedin twitter

Can Smartwatches Contribute to Health Anxiety in Patients With Heart Conditions?

August 25, 2021 by Alexa Hornbeck

Smartwatches, or other wrist-worn devices, can help monitor for health conditions such as an irregular heart rhythm, but a study funded by the National Institutes of Health finds that wearable devices may also cause negative effects to patients’ psychological health.

“Our case study does not suggest that wearables intrinsically lead to anxiety, but that in particular situations like with atrial fibrillation, it’s something we need to think about,” said Rachel Lampert, professor of Medicine in Cardiology and Electrophysiology at Yale School of Medicine. 

Atrial fibrillation affects an estimated 12.1 million people in the United States and was the underlying cause in nearly 26,000 deaths in 2018. 

The condition can be brief or permanent and occurs when the normal beating in the upper chambers of the heart becomes irregular, and blood doesn’t flow as well as it should to the lower chambers of the heart. 

To develop the case study, researchers reviewed the records of a 70-year-old woman with an atrial fibrillation heart condition who experienced anxiety from wearing a smartwatch after taking 916 electrocardiography recordings in one year, a method used to record electrical signals from the heart to monitor for heart conditions.

The patient developed an enduring belief that smartwatch notifications were a sign of worsening cardiac function, leading to a vicious cycle of excessive worry, preoccupation with cardiac stimuli and sensations, and compensatory behaviors.

Despite repeated medical assessment and reassurance, the pattern resulted in 12 ambulatory clinic and emergency department visits and numerous telephone calls to health care providers, none of which led to any alterations in medical treatment. 

“We observed a substantial increase in unnecessary outpatient visits and ED presentations in our patient,” said Lindsey Rosman, assistant professor of Medicine in the Division of Cardiology at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.

Rosman conducted a medical record review and a psychiatric interview with the patient who also completed a number of self-report assessments.

Rosman found that the constant worry of the patient and frequent health care visits had a profoundly negative impact on the patient’s mental health, relationships, and quality of life, and the patient received six sessions of cognitive behavioral therapy aimed at targeting the anxiety. 

“We want to understand who is vulnerable to this, and how factors like age or underlying anxiety might make people more vulnerable to this and thinking about ways to combat that phenomenon would be the next step,” said Lampert.

The study showed that technologies like smartwatches and other wrist-worn devices may heighten awareness and attention to normal and abnormal fluctuations in heart rates, which may lead to substantial increases in anxiety in patients and prompt unnecessary medical care. 

Rosman and Lampert will be working to conduct a larger study to determine the prevalence and clinical outcomes of health anxiety associated with wearable devices in patients with underlying atrial fibrillation.

“All stakeholders, technology companies, behavioral scientists, health care practitioners, researchers, patients and caregivers, need to work together to understand the ways in which diverse segments of society interact with this technology. Unintended consequences are inevitable, but we should do our best to understand these issues and guard against them,” said Rosman. 

Technology

October 26, 2021
by Tom Ramstack
Bigger Government Role Expected to Protect Industry From Hackers

WASHINGTON — Large-scale cyberattacks continued this week in the United States and abroad as computer security experts told a congressional... Read More

WASHINGTON — Large-scale cyberattacks continued this week in the United States and abroad as computer security experts told a congressional panel Tuesday that more government intervention is needed. On Monday, Microsoft announced that Russia-backed hackers were trying to steal information technology to disrupt the global supply... Read More

October 22, 2021
by Victoria Turner
Advocates Call for National Privacy Policy at FTC Open Meeting

The Federal Trade Commission should work with the U.S. Congress on drafting a comprehensive federal privacy law, instead of using... Read More

The Federal Trade Commission should work with the U.S. Congress on drafting a comprehensive federal privacy law, instead of using its rulemaking authority to do industry-specific regulation, according to three privacy policy advocates from three separate think tanks on Thursday at the FTC's open meeting. “Rather... Read More

October 19, 2021
by Victoria Turner
Industry Must Move Together as 5G Maps the Road Towards 6G

There was a time when 3D holographic communications was a fantasy; something depicted in George Lucas’s “Star Wars” movies but... Read More

There was a time when 3D holographic communications was a fantasy; something depicted in George Lucas’s “Star Wars” movies but far from everyday.  However, “what was once science fiction is now becoming reality,” said Andre Fuetsch, chief technology officer of AT&T, on Monday. Speaking at the... Read More

October 15, 2021
by Reece Nations
Tech Innovation ‘Fundamental Foundation’ of Feasibly Solving Climate Crisis

WASHINGTON -- The foundations of what could prove to be the next great innovations in climate change prevention technology were... Read More

WASHINGTON -- The foundations of what could prove to be the next great innovations in climate change prevention technology were laid out and dissected during a Brookings Institution webinar this week. Sanjay Patnaik, director of Brookings Center on Regulation and Markets, hosted a virtual discussion on... Read More

October 14, 2021
by Victoria Turner
Cybersecurity Experts Point to More Investment Needed in Detection, Response

WASHINGTON -- If everyone were to employ proper cyber hygiene like multi-factor authentication or not clicking on links in phishing... Read More

WASHINGTON -- If everyone were to employ proper cyber hygiene like multi-factor authentication or not clicking on links in phishing emails, more than 85% of cyberattacks would be prevented, said Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, Thursday.  “The best hack is the one that doesn’t happen,” King said... Read More

October 13, 2021
by Victoria Turner
BIPOC Entrepreneurs Work to Combat Inequities

Social entrepreneurship uses technology to bridge the gap between “cash-strapped” municipalities and local governments, said Gabriella Wong, CEO and founder... Read More

Social entrepreneurship uses technology to bridge the gap between “cash-strapped” municipalities and local governments, said Gabriella Wong, CEO and founder of AccesSOS, Tuesday.  Wong’s comment came during the Camelback Venture’s Guardian Summit panel discussion where she was joined by two other socially-driven app founders and executives... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top