Monitoring your health is important but you have to be careful not to overdo it, especially if you are elderly
In the beginning it was the pedometer. Useful, very useful for getting an idea of the physical activity you do every day. Then came the blood pressure measurements via smartphone or smartwatch, the control of the breathing rhythm, the almost constant monitoring of the heartbeat rate.
All important: these are tools that help us, without a doubt. But you must also be careful not to overdo it, especially when you are elderly, and to always refer to your doctor. Otherwise, also thanks to the lockdown and social distancing, constant "technological" and above all "do-it-yourself" control can become a double-edged sword, increasing the risk of anxiety and psychological discomfort, especially in old age.
A document by the experts of the European Society of Cardiology is a reminder of how much technology can help but also that it must not become a stress factor.
We always talk to the doctor
The experts of the Italian Society of Geriatric Cardiology (SICGe) warn against the risks deriving from digital obsession, who underline how under the pressure of the Covid emergency we have moved from compulsive Google consultation to self-measurement of all body parameters .
"All digital technologies, starting from smartphones, can represent a driving force for cardiovascular prevention and this is confirmed by the boom in sales of devices for monitoring heart function: from electronic bracelets to Apps, to smartwatches for the transmission of the electrocardiogram", explains Alessandro Boccanelli, president of the Italian Society of Geriatric Cardiology (SICGe).
"In the year of the pandemic in Italy, spending on these instruments reached half a billion euros with a per capita expenditure of around 40 euros. The time has come to work on a path of care that begins with remote patient interaction. But self-monitoring should not be confused with the diagnosis that must always be performed by the doctor, regardless of the technical data that cannot be substituted for the health worker. Instead, there is the belief that by using them you can bypass the health professional who must always suggest their use, otherwise the risk is to make everyone feel a little sick. This is especially true for the elderly who live at home, often unaware victims of obsessive "do-it-yourself" control and more exposed to the risk of an excess of medicalization and increasing suffering and anxiety. It is not uncommon, for example, that the pressure device sends a warning message of a presumed atrial fibrillation but if the patient is not at risk, he should not worry. It is therefore necessary to talk to your doctor, always using the health care worker as a filter, to understand if you are a person at risk, if it is appropriate to use digital technology and share data ", Boccanelli points out.
What to do?
The Covid emergency has given a significant boost and highlighted the key role of digital technology especially applied to cardiology. The continuous monitoring of vital parameters and the collection of related data which in these months of isolation and distancing have experienced a surge, however, have upset the balance of the relationship between doctor and patient, especially for the elderly. This is why it is important to keep in mind some simple rules and to know that smartphones, tablets and even wearable devices can help us in prevention and control, remembering however that the doctor is the reference point also for tests that may be necessary, without falling into the self-diagnosis.