A 30-year-old man only discovered he had heart disease and needed a transplant after using his friend’s Fitbit watch.
Ryan Gabb, from Wrexham in north Wales, found he had a resting heart rate above 100 beats per minute — the maximum end of the healthy range — after putting on the gadget.
The former factory worker had suffered from flu-like symptoms and breathlessness and wanted to look closer at his heart rate.
The Fitbit data prompted him to go to hospital, where tests revealed he had dilated cardiomyopathy — a disease of the heart muscle.
The condition stops the organ from pumping blood as well as it should, raising the risk of heart failure and blood clots. It affects around 260,000 Britons.
Retired footballer Fabrice Muamba collapsed due to cardiomyopathy in 2012 in an FA Cup quarter-final match against Tottenham while playing for Bolton.
Doctors performed emergency surgery to fit Mr Gabb with a heart pump and told him he would need a heart transplant. He has now been on the waiting list for nearly four years.
Ryan Gabb (pictured), from Wrexham in North Wales, discovered he had a resting heart rate above 100 beats per minute — the maximum end of the healthy range — after putting on the gadget
Doctors performed emergency surgery to fit Mr Gabb (pictured in hospital) with a heart pump and told him he would need a heart transplant. He has now been on the waiting list for nearly four years
The Fitbit data prompted him to go to hospital, where tests revealed he was suffering from dilated cardiomyopathy — a disease of the heart muscle. Fitbits (pictured) show users their heart rate, as well as step count and sleeping patterns
WHAT SHOULD MY HEART RATE BE?
Most adults have a resting heart rate between 60 and 100 beats per minute (BPM).
But the fitter a person is, the lower their resting heart rate is likely to be.
The NHS advises patients to get checked if their heart rate is continuously above 120bpm or below 60bpm.
However, higher or lower heart rates may be normal for some people.
Some heart conditions, such as arrhythmia — an abnormal heart rhythm — can cause the heart to beat more slowly, quickly or irregularly.
Dehydration, being unwell and some medication can also increase heart rate.
Mr Gabb, who has had to give up work because of his illness, said: ‘I had been feeling unwell for a few weeks, just general tiredness and flu type symptoms that I couldn’t shake off.
‘It was gradually getting worse and I was starting to become breathless too.
‘Knowing something wasn’t right, I borrowed a friend’s Fitbit to check my heart rate and it was over 100.’
Fitbits show users their heart rate, as well as step count and sleeping patterns.
Speaking out now as part of an NHS campaign, Mr Gabb added: ‘I knew I needed to get checked out, so I left work early and went to the doctors.
‘The GP sent me straight to the local hospital where I was told I had dilated cardiomyopathy and I would likely need a heart transplant.
‘I couldn’t believe what I was hearing and was in complete shock, I knew I hadn’t been well but was not expecting anything so serious.’
Dilated cardiomyopathy causes the heart muscle to become stretched and thin, so that it cannot squeeze properly to pump blood around the body.
Sufferers are at an increased risk of heart failure, valve problems, an irregular heartbeat and blood clots.
The condition can be inherited or triggered by uncontrolled high blood pressure, an unhealthy lifestyle and a viral infection.
Mr Gabb received the diagnosis in September 2017 and was added to the urgent heart transplant waiting list.
He was fitted with a heart pump — a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) which helps the heart circulate blood around the body. But he had to rejoin the transplant list again in May 2018.
Mr Gabb was forced to give up his job as a factory worker due to his condition.
He said: ‘I am doing pretty well at the moment with the LVAD but waiting for a transplant can be hard, there is a constant need to have my phone with me and I need a regular electricity supply so my LVAD batteries can be charged.
‘The worry of power cuts is always in the back of my mind.’
‘I hope the year ahead can bring some normality and I also hope more people will discuss organ donation with their families and register their decision.’
Anthony Clarkson, director of organ and tissue donation and transplantation at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: ‘Thousands of people across the UK are waiting for the call that a donor has been found to save or transform their life, and hundreds of them need a heart transplant.
‘We encourage everyone to have that heart-to-heart now.
‘Talk to your family and tell them your organ donation decision, leave them certain of it.
‘And make sure you know what they would want too, so you can support their decision.’