Drug users count on Apple Watch, Fitbit to monitor heart rate during binges

Jose Azel / Techhnews

Some people use their Apple Watch and Fitbit to track their health and exercise routine. Others apparently use the devices to stay safe during drug binges. 

Several people on Reddit, Twitter and other social media platforms have been sharing that their wearable devices are useful for tracking their heart rate when using drugs such as cocaine, ketamine and speed, according to CNBC. If the device shows that their heart rate has jumped to, say 150, after snorting cocaine, they’ll know to probably skip a turn. 

Cocaine can lead to increased heart rate, among other short-term physiological effects such as constricted blood vessels and dilated pupils, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. One source in the CNBC story, a 20-something-year-old San Francisco techie referred to as Owen, said his Fitbit showed him having a resting heart rate of about 55. When that number jumps to 150 or 160, he knows to pass up a turn. 

“I don’t really know what’s happening in my body when I smoke some weed or do some cocaine,” Owen told the publication. “I can read information online, but that’s not specific to me. Watching your heart rate change on the Fitbit while doing cocaine is super real data that you’re getting about yourself.”

But medical professionals warn that using heart rate monitors to protect from overdosing provides a “false sense of security,” according to CNBC. Cardiologist Ethan Weiss told the publication that blood pressure and heart rhythm, which can’t be tracked by most wearable devices, are also impacted by cocaine. In addition, many heart rate monitors aren’t as accurate as standard chest straps, one recent study found. 

Apple and Fitbit didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. 

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