How Saturation Measurement in Armband and Watch Saved My Skin

Good morning! I will never be a sprinter because my lungs are bad. Occurring simultaneously: Asthma and A1AT deficiency in my case are life threatening not “now” but long term illnesses – primarily this latter disease entity may force me to undergo a lung transplant or live on an artificial cardiac lung (average lifespan yes 2 years). Such a mean prospect. This is why I was very interested in the saturation measurements of armbands and watches.

I have a pulse oximeter at home – it is an extremely important device for me: all because I have experienced desaturation (episodes of saturation below 90%) with accompanying shortness of breath . But, it is not uncommon for desaturation to occur without feeling out of breath. Because we must be clear: dyspnea is a subjective symptom. You may not feel the unpleasant choking sensation, but the desaturation still happened.

But for fun, I’ve just been starting to feel worse for a while. I was either nervous or sleepy despite having slept those “regular” 8 hours. In the Mi Band 6, and now the Amazfit GTR3 Pro watch tested, I set myself more frequent automatic blood saturation readings. And here’s a note – this measurement will not take place when we move. It will be completely cosmic if the lighting conditions suddenly change during the measurement. Neither the bracelet nor the watch will reliably measure saturation in a situation where the device does not stick tightly to the body. For best measurements, place the equipment at the width of your index finger, from your wrist to your forearm.

Does the bracelet/watch measure blood saturation accurately?

The measurement of SpO2 in a bracelet or a watch can be more or less reliable due to the conditions mentioned above. As I wrote, this process will not take place if we actively move forward. Light from the sensor should reflect off the radial bone and hit the sensor back – the sensor will assess saturation based on the amount of light transmitted. Such a technique will always be less reliable than passing infrared light through the finger and reading the result by a specialized sensor. Nevertheless, under normal conditions, the measurements of the Amazfit GTR3 Pro watch were consistent with those of the pulse oximeter with an accuracy of +/- two percent. Mi Band 6 was able to show completely cosmic results for no apparent reason, although it showed an indication with an error of 3%. But much less often than Amazfit.

Looking through the saturation metrics at night, I’ve noticed that it can drop to around 81-85%. This is quite weak and I began to suspect obstructive sleep apnea, which without polysomnography is still indeterminate for me. But we’ll come to that too – unfortunately I snore and probably stop breathing at some point, which manifests as sudden desaturation.

But it also happened that the GTR3 Pro started showing me too low saturation notifications during the day. When I sit at the computer and type – the watch is able to measure SpO2. When it was below 90 for more than 10 minutes I got a warning like this. And, unfortunately, it was most (but not always) with shortness of breath. You feel yourself breathing, but not effectively. Your breathing quickens as if you were about to choke. This can then make the head dizzy and spots can appear before the eyes. Unpleasant state. And what’s worse, the “rescue” belonging to Ventolin at the time did not help at all. Meanwhile, the doctor added Encorton, thinking it might be a pollen effect. There was no great improvement – I received an urgent referral to the lung disease clinic. Previously, in my office, I had 90% saturation. The doctor was a bit surprised that I wasn’t particularly weak. I note: we measured the saturation on several fingers.

Here, out of curiosity, we checked the indication with the doctor. Pulse Ox said “90” and GTR3 Pro said “88”.

Another diastolic spirometry test in my life clearly indicated this: the response to the bronchodilator is – FEV1, that is, the increase in expiratory volume from the first second after administration of the drug, was considerably improved. Great, that’s the answer to drugs. Unfortunately, I had an irreversible obstruction – not yet one that meets the criteria for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, but still. There’s not much to do about it. In the next steps of my therapeutic journey at the Ambulatory Clinic, we will check if it is linked to the persistent obstruction by asthma, or if it is already the effect of a deficiency in A1AT, where the lungs are destroyed in the autoimmune process.

This is how I discovered that I had a severe asthma exacerbation and the spirometry parameters were falling on my neck. I decided that the current doctor (whom I visited privately) would just lose a client, and I would put myself in the hands of pretty cool specialists who carried out the scheduled examinations in one day and said a sentence – until now they entered J45 (bronchial asthma) in the record again, again of undefined type. We are awaiting the results of the allergen IgE reaction – again.

I received new medications (steroids) in addition to those I was taking until now. The irreplaceable budesonide with formoterol (Bufomix Easyhaler) now plays a major role in me. And so far I haven’t noticed any daytime desaturations – unfortunately such episodes happen at night, but I have another referral: this time to the sleep therapy clinic.

I haven’t slept here yet. I wasn’t feeling very well then, so I checked the bracelet and the pulse oximeter. He said “88”.

The band and watch won’t show you exactly that, but they may catch your eye.

Not now, but one day it will surely become truly accurate and reliable. We have already come a long way in this regard and it would be a shame to miss it. Here you have to be clear: the bracelet and the watch, especially with high desaturation, are very unreliable (then the error may even be more than 5%!), but they can draw your attention to the fact that something thing is wrong.

The more this desaturation leads to an excessive load on the internal organs and causes other diseases. I am almost 30 years old – I offer myself to live in relatively comfortable conditions. I have a little more trouble, but maybe it will work. I will not thank the bracelet and the watch for their precision, but at least for having attracted attention. It matters a lot. However, I am pleased that the Amazfit GTR3 Pro measured SpO2 efficiently and quite accurately – this is equipment for people who want to take more care of their health.

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