Shortly after I heard about my dad’s heart condition, I tackled my nerves around it by consuming as much medical information in order to understand the causes of the condition (clogged arteries), and what the solution (bypass surgery) entailed. So over the past couple of weeks I’ve read a number of books and articles on heart disease, as well as medical journals, as if understanding it better would somehow help to get rid of it more efficiently.
As I reviewed all this information, it occurred to me that although we have progressed and innovated greatly in many areas of our lives with all types of Web and Mobile applications, we still have a long way to go when it comes to our own body.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could measure and keep track of our body’s activity, symptoms, reactions, and even moods, in order to determine when something’s off, and help prevent a number of diseases? Perhaps prevent being told one day by your doctor: “you need quadruple bypass surgery”?
It’s become clear to me through my readings and talking to doctors that in preventing heart disease (and many other diseases that plague millions every day), it is essential to keep track of certain indicators in your body like cholesterol levels, blood pressure, weight, fitness levels, and many others that although they may seem trivial when you look at them individually, combined and over a long period of time they can alert you of a severe condition that might be developing.
The good news is that there are already some great folks doing extraordinary work that is leading us down that path. From mobile apps that measure your heart rate, apps that record your fitness activities, a body scale that records your weight via WIFI, one that records your sleep patterns, and platforms like Google Health and Microsoft Health Vault that combine all this data in order for you to keep track of your entire family’s health.
However, as much as I like looking at these challenges logically, I am aware that there are many other factors that play a part and believing that a mobile app could predict the occurrence or existence of a disease precisely would be shortsighted. There is still much for us to learn about the human body, but the potential to start using technology we keep in our pockets everyday (mobiles) and fill the gaps in our days (standing in line) by entering a few basic things into these body apps, the same way we find the time to share a link to an interesting article online, send a tweet or update our Facebook accounts, then perhaps one day these apps could also alert us of a developing condition and in time help save a life.
On reading an article about heart disease from National Geographic (Mending Broken Hearts), I came across a message that stood out for me from the director of the Cleveland Clinic’s Women’s Cardiovascular Center:
We still have a long way to go, but at least we have a starting point for things we can do when we go home.
Here’s a short collection of some innovative apps out there: