11 Health Gadgets That Could Save Your Life
Some of these products are inexpensive, others are a bit of an investment, but all of them can be potential life savers under the right circumstances.
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Whether it’s a first-aid kit or an inhaler, there are a variety of gadgets that could potentially be life-saving in an array of situations. Some require a prescription, but many do not.
“Trauma is a leading cause of death in all age groups,” says Matthew Jason Levy, DO, MSc, associate professor of emergency medicine, Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. With a specialty in disaster and emergency medicine, Levy explains that having the proper equipment to deal with trauma as well as the proper training can help save a life.
“Everyone should get training in these life-saving skills,” he says.
However, there are other non-trauma gadgets that can also be life-saving in their own way, like a fitness tracker, notes Melissa Bailey, MS, LDN, a registered dietitian from Philadelphia and founder of The Nourished Fork.
Here are a few of the items both Levy and Bailey say may help save a life depending on the circumstances.
Smart pill boxes, dispensers, and Rx reminders
About half of all people in the US take a prescription medication, 24% take three or more or them, and 13% take five or more, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. That’s a lot of medication. It’s safe to say that quite a few of those drugs are probably lifesaving, but we all know how easy it is to forget to take medication on the daily—even if it’s critical for your health. That’s why a smart pill box or dispenser can help make your life a lot easier, whether you are taking the medication yourself or you are a caregiver for someone else who has a dizzying array of medications. Made for easy organization, some of these pill boxes also have an app you can use on your smartphone to receive reminders that you need to take your pills. For example, the GMS Automatic Pill Dispenser and the Memo Box Mini come with apps and can be set up for multiple alarms based on different prescriptions. There are literally dozens of pill organizers on the market. (Here are Amazon’s top 100 best-selling pill organizers.)
$87 and $39
Blood pressure monitor
About 75 million adults in the US have high blood pressure, which is about one in three adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Blood pressure has a tendency to fluctuate, and sometimes a visit to the doctor’s office doesn’t result in the most reliable reading. (Some people have white coat hypertension, meaning their blood pressure can go up during a doctor’s exam but not at other times.) For some people, it can make sense to measure it at home using a blood pressure monitor. Blood pressure monitors not only provide a quick read to tell you if you are experiencing high or low blood pressure, but they can also detect an unusual heartbeat. Make sure you know how to tell when high blood pressure is an emergency.
Whether you’re looking to lose weight, monitor your vitals, or improve your cardiovascular fitness with exercise, Bailey says that fitness trackers like the FitBit or Apple Watch can be potentially lifesaving.
“They can monitor your heart rate and keep you in check to make sure you are in the healthy range,” she says. And if you’re looking to improve your heart health, check out a few simple ways to get a healthy heart rate.
Bleeding control kit
According to Levy, it’s a good idea to have a bleeding control kit. “Having a bleeding control kit that contains a tourniquet, gauze, dressing materials and gloves is a great way to be prepared,” he says.
However, Levy explains that caution needs to be exercised when purchasing one of these bleeding control kits.
“Counterfeit tourniquets can look very realistic, hard to differentiate from real tourniquets, and are found through some online merchants and marketplaces,” he says.
There are a number of different disorders that can be affected by blood sugar levels—from diabetes to certain cardiovascular diseases. That means a glucose monitor is one of the gadgets that may save your life. Many come with testing strips as well as lancets so you can easily prick your finger to get a drop of blood, which you put on a strip for testing in the device.
“It automatically sends your blood sugar measures to your smartphone and can alert you right away if your blood sugar is too high or too low, which would require immediate medical attention for those with diabetes. With this technology, diabetics are able to keep a better check on their blood sugar throughout the day, which is truly a life saver,” says Bailey.
You have probably seen doctors use defibrillators on TV shows. (It’s usually a high-drama situation where a doctor yells “clear!” and uses the defibrillator paddles to shock the heart back into a normal rhythm.) One of the great advances of recent years is that these types of machines, once only available in hospitals, are now small and portable enough to be found in shopping malls, sporting arenas, gyms, and other public places. They’re known as automated external defibrillators (AEDs) and don’t require a prescription. Why are they important? Well if a person goes into cardiac arrest, they typically lose consciousness and their heart stops beating. While CPR can help a person in cardiac arrest get blood and oxygen to the brain for a little while, their heart won’t start beating again until it is shocked back into a normal rhythm. While devices like the OnSite AED Defibrillator have a hefty price tag, a doctor can tell you if this is a life-saving gadget that is worth the investment. Not only is each defibrillator designed for ease of use and prompt response, but many also come with step-by-step voice commands and real-time CPR guidance.
Bluetooth EpiPen case and app
Allergies can be serious business, even potentially life threatening. And those dangerous allergic reactions—known as anaphylaxis—require the rapid administration of the drug epinephrine to hopefully stop them. The most common way to take epinephrine is via an auto-injector known as an EpiPen. The Veta “smart” case and app ($100) has an array of features that can be helpful to people who need to carry an EpiPen with them at all times. The device can notify a user’s support circle (say, a child’s parents) that the EpiPen was removed from the case. The devices also include the ability to track the location of the user, a temperature notification, and a FindMe feature that allows users to find the case if it is missing. Read more about food allergies here.
$99.99 for two
Portable water filter
Not all water is created equal. Having your own water filtering system can come in handy for removing minerals and elements from tap water or you can carry it when traveling, camping, and hiking to make sure your water is safe to drink. ( Check out three other ways to filter your water.)
One of the best ways to see if you’re too impaired to drive is by using a breathalyzer. The BACtrack Mobile Smartphone Breathalyzer touts professional-grade accuracy and connects to your smartphone to keep track of blood alcohol levels.
Cardiac monitoring device
More advanced than the heart rate monitors that you could find in fitness trackers, the SonoHealth Portable EKG Heart Rate Monitor comes with sensors designed to detect heartbeat abnormalities and arrhythmias more accurately than other heart monitors. These are the five medical tests for your heart that can save your life.
Gluten, which is found in wheat, rye, and barley (among other foods), can be dangerous for people living with celiac disease or who have a gluten intolerance. A gluten sensor, which is designed to detect gluten in food, may help. The gadget supposedly can test your food for gluten within two to five minutes, whether you are at a restaurant, traveling, or at home.
“The data is limited on how accurate this monitor is, but for someone with celiac disease, this can be a great tool to carry when eating out to help determine if their meal is safe to consume. The same company now makes a peanut scanner as well, which is great for those with peanut allergies,” says Bailey.
Other life-saving devices
While there are plenty of gadgets and products you can buy that can be potential life savers, there are others that require a prescription or are available from your pharmacist without a prescription. Here are three:
- EpiPen: This medication is used in emergencies to help those with severe allergic reactions. These auto-injectors help to relieve the symptoms of anaphylactic shock, a life-threatening condition.
- Inhaler: During an asthma attack, an inhaler delivers medication directly into the lungs in order to re-open airways and restore regular breathing.
- Narcan: Used in cases of opioid overdoses, Narcan can reverse the effects of an opioid medication and quite literally save a person’s life. Narcan nasal spray can be obtained from a pharmacist and doesn’t require a prescription.