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Should Pulse Oximeters Be Part Of Every Home First Aid Kit?

Posted by FitTrack Australia on

The COVID-19 pandemic has people scrambling to stock up on first aid items like hand sanitizer, paracetamol and ibuprofen and equipment such as thermometers, hand sanitiser dispensers, personal protective equipment (PPE) and even HEPA air purifiers. Face masks now feature on weekly shopping lists as people learn to live with COVID in compliance with local regulations.  However, many households have either omitted to purchase or have purchased too late, one medical item that is vital for monitoring the health and wellbeing of anyone who contracts SARV-COV-19.

The pulse oximeter has been in use in hospitals long before COVID-19. It is a non-invasive device that checks blood oxygen saturation and is ideal for use at home. Let us discover what a pulse oximeter can do and why it is essential for detecting and fighting the COVID-19 virus.

Person measuring blood oxygen saturation at home using Fingertip Pulse Oximeter -

A Brief History of Pulse Oximetry

Prior to the invention of non-invasive pulse oximeters, a small amount of blood had to be drawn and tested to get an accurate reading of blood oxygen saturation levels, or during surgery, anaesthesiologists often had to rely on unreliable measures of tissue oxygenation, such as by observing how red the blood of a patient seemed after a surgeon made the initial incision into the patient. The dangers of not having instant oxygen saturation measurements available are obvious, as undetected hypoxia could quickly lead to emergency situations such as cardiac arrest.

In 1974, Electrical Engineer Takuo Aoyagi devised a mathematical formula that significantly improved the accuracy of previous devices attempting to measure blood oxygen saturation, by taking into account that blood flows through arteries in pulses rather than in a constant flow. Modern pulse oximeters are based on the principles developed by Dr Aoyagi. Dr Aoyagi received a medal from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) in 2015, for innovations in healthcare technology. Despite Dr Aoyagi’s innovative discovery, his employer, Nihon Kohden Corporation failed to commercialise the technology.

Then, in 1978, William New, an anaesthesiologist and intensive care physician (and electrical engineer) at Stanford University Medical School, invented the prototype of the modern pulse oximeter. A few years later he founded Nellcor, the manufacturer of the first commercially available pulse oximeter. The Anesthesia Consultant writes “Steve Jobs changed our way of life with the introduction of the iPhone. In parallel, Bill New changed the world with the introduction of the pulse oximeter. No single device in the 20th century changed medical care more than the oximeter. Nellcor’s successful production, marketing, and sales efforts of their pulse oximeter changed not just anesthesia practice, but medical practice, forever.”

The Nellcor N-100 Pulse Oximeter (circa 1983) was one of the earliest commercially available pulse oximeters

Pulse oximeters have come a long way since the early days. Now a lightweight battery powered fingertip pulse oximeter with an on device OLED or LED display can be purchased by anyone. Devices such as the Jumper Medical JPD-500D  Fingertip Pulse Oximeter (FDA registered) are powered by AAA batteries, and simply require clipping onto the fingertip and the press of a button for instant SpO2, Heart Rate and Perfusion Index measurements and a live waveforms displayed on the OLED screen. Advanced devices such as the TGA approved, clinically validated iHealth AIR (PO3M) Wireless Pulse Oximeter take pulse oximetry one step further by offering bluetooth connectivity & synchronization with a companion app which can not only display but record these metrics for future reference or for sharing with health care providers or remote monitoring systems.

The TGA Approved iHealth AIR (PO3M) Pulse Oximeter is available at FitTrack Australia.

What Can A Pulse Oximeter Tell Me?

A pulse oximeter can help identify conditions that can change blood oxygen levels or SpO2. such as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), asthma, lung cancer, pneumonia, anaemia, and even heart failure. If a person's Sp02 levels are subpar, it is an indication of the existence of a condition that requires medical attention.

So How Do Pulse Oximeters Work?

Pulse oximeters work by emitting red and infrared light through the fingertip or earlobe to detect oxygen levels in your blood. Measurements are non-invasive, accurate, simple and fast.

Many pulse oximeters are also able to provide a perfusion index (PI) reading. Put simply, the Perfusion Index is a measurement of the pulse strength or blood flow at the measurement site. A poor perfusion index measurement for a well placed pulse oximeter may indicate health issues. Perfusion Index can also be used to determine the suitability of a measurement site.

But Do I Need A Pulse Oximeter At Home?

Often our first introduction to a pulse oximeter was probably our first visit to the emergency department of a hospital or upon being admitted to hospital for treatment or surgery. We would have had an oximetry probe attached to our fingertip, and we may have been fascinated watching our heart rate displayed on the device’s screen, and may have even wondered what SpO2 referred to. So pulse oximetry has long been something viewed as being in the realm of medical centres and hospitals.

Typical pulse oximeter used at a hospital - fingertip probe attached to patient

 

But is it necessary to have a pulse oximeter at home? Through COVID-19 many government health departments and health care practitioners have encouraged patients, especially those who exhibit symptoms, are immunocompromised, have been exposed or who are known to be infected, to monitor their blood oxygen saturation. Sub-optimal blood oxygen saturation can be an early indicator that someone is unwell and requires urgent medical attention. In some cases, patients suffer from ‘asymptomatic hypoxia’ in which their blood oxygen levels are dangerously low but do not exhibit significant symptoms such as shortness of breath, and often present themselves too late for treatment at hospitals.

In light of this, we believe that pulse oximeters should definitely be part of every home’s first aid kit, as digital thermometers have been for decades now.

In light of the recurrent COVID surges as new variants emerge, many nations have experienced periodic pulse oximeter shortages, as has Australia over December 2021 & January 2022. Many prudent customers have preemptively purchased our advanced, reliable and trusted pulse oximeters and are making them part of their home first aid kits.

Pulse Oximeter Shortages? Where Can I Buy A Pulse Oximeter In Australia?

FitTrack Australia is proud to have in stock the following fingertip Pulse Oximeters:

Our pulse oximeters are covered by an Australian warranty and ship from our Sydney warehouse.

Jumper Medical JPD-500D - easy to use FDA approved Fingertip OLED Pulse Oximeter

 

References:

  • https://www.webmd.com/lung/news/20210222/fda-warns-of-potential-pulse-oximeter-inaccuracies
  • https://www.legacy.com/us/obituaries/sfgate/name/william-new-obituary?id=1607363
  • https://theanesthesiaconsultant.com/2018/02/23/the-most-significant-anesthesiologist-of-the-20th-century/
  • https://news.stanford.edu/news/2005/january19/med-oximeter-0119.html
  • https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/11/201119153946.htm
  • https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1201971220322712
  • https://www.nihonkohden.com/company/history/1970s.html#:~:text=From%20Overseas%20to%20Outer%20Space%20%2D%201970s&text=In%201974%2C%20Nihon%20Kohden%20researcher,the%20need%20to%20sample%20blood.
  • https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/01/science/takuo-aoyagi-an-inventor-of-the-pulse-oximeter-dies-at-84.html
  • https://ieeetv.ieee.org/history/2015-ieee-honors-ieee-medal-for-innovations-in-healthcare-technology-takuo-aoyagi?rf=events|65&
  • https://escholarship.umassmed.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1542&context=cts_retreat
  • https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00540-021-02967-z
  • https://www.legacy.com/us/obituaries/sfgate/name/william-new-obituary?id=1607363&__cf_chl_captcha_tk__=PnE84A8ldtHPYZcn_qv2p2.FFLglJsQpAOkhfg.ZdYo-1642948353-0-gaNycGzNBr0
  • https://www.blf.org.uk/support-for-you/breathing-tests/tests-measure-oxygen-levels
  • https://www.amperordirect.com/pc/help-pulse-oximeter/z-what-is-pi.html
  • https://www.thedailystar.net/toggle/news/all-you-need-know-about-pulse-oximeter-1938229
  • https://infiniti.se/wp-content/uploads/Beskrivning_PIWhite-paper.pdf

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Watch band great, perfect for withings watch. Customer service outstanding with clear communication and excellent follow up. Thankyou

Thank you very much for taking time to review the Genuine Leather watchbands for Withings. Thank you also for the feedback on FitTrack Australia's customer service and communication.

Accurate & Reliable

Had admission to hospital with exacerbated COPD during the past week. I measured my oxygen sats on my new oximeter ( purchased one week prior to admission)and the measurements were precisely the same as the measurements taken by the nurses using the hospital oximeter every time. My phone recorded the measurements and I was able to show the doctors /nurses the trends with comments, recording details of what I was doing at the time of each reading. That is not an option while using the hospital equipment. They rely on manual entries which are sometimes overlooked, not entered or inaccurate.

Thank you so much for the time you've taken to provide a very meaningful review of the iHealth AIR Pulse Oximeter. It is great to hear how practical and useful the ability to sync readings to the iHealth MyVitals app on the phone and have a record over time as opposed to manually recorded spot readings. It is no surprise that the measurements were in line with the hospital's pulse oximeter readings, as the iHealth AIR is clinically validated (independently tested) and is deemed a medical grade pulse oximeter. We really appreciate the excellent review, and we hope that you are feeling better now!

Very Impressed

This is a great and easy to use Fingertip Pulse Oximeter. It's casing is strong and it comes with a good carry pouch and cord. I'd recommend it to anyone.

Thank you for taking the time to give that great review on the Jumper Medical JPD-500D fingertip pulse oximeter. It certainly punches above its weight in terms of build quality, reliability and accuracy.

Just Great

I'm very impressed with the Jumper JPD-HA300 Compact Blood Pressure Monitor, it works just great!!!

Thank you very much for taking the time to review the Jumper JPD-HA300 Blood Pressure Monitor. It's a high quality and yet affordable BPM, that punches above its weight!

Helpful

I have found this Oximeter easy to use and it seems to perform well so far. I have only had it for a couple of weeks. I am hoping it will help friends and family who are at risk of severe COVID and I hope it will continue to perform well for a long time.

Thank you so much for taking the time to review the iHealth AIR Wireless Fingertip Pulse Oximeter. As a medical grade TGA approved pulse oximeter you can have peace of mind that it is a high quality blood oxygen saturation monitor as is trusted by doctors and medical professionals throughout Australia.