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Apple Watch alerts 13-year-old about a serious, undetected heart condition

Published Feb 17th, 2020 6:15PM EST
Apple Watch
Image: JUSTIN LANE/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

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A teenager in Oklahoma is crediting the Apple Watch for alerting him to a serious heart condition that may have otherwise gone undetected. In a story that first appeared on KFOR News, 13-year-old Skylar Joslin was sitting in class when an alert about his heart rate appeared on his Apple Watch. To his credit, Joslin reacted immediately and quickly fired off a text to his mother.

“I got a text message along with a screenshot of his heart rate that was 190,” Joslin’s mom said. A follow-up message from Skylar relayed that he suspected something was wrong given that he wasn’t engaged in any type of physical activity at the time.

Taking quick and decisive action, Skylar’s mom went to go pick him up from school and then drove him to a nearby emergency room. By that time, his heart rate had reached 202 beats per minute.

Ultimately, Joslin was diagnosed with Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT), a condition wherein electrical irregularities in the heart leads to an abnormally fast heart rate. Incidentally, SVT can arise abruptly, which is to say that Joslin’s Apple Watch allowed him to detect that something was awry immediately. While SVT isn’t typically a life-threatening condition, it is something that can get progressively worse with time if left untreated.

Joslin eventually had a procedure called a cardiac ablation to treat the underlying condition.

“If I wouldn’t have gotten his Apple Watch, I don’t know that I would’ve ever known,” Skyler’s mom said. “I mean it’s unknown how long it would’ve been going on or how long it would’ve really taken.”

While the Apple Watch in this case arguably didn’t save Joslin’s life — again, SVT isn’t typically life-threatening — we’ve seen no shortage of stories involving the Apple Watch doing just that. Earlier this year, for example, we highlighted how an Apple Watch owner named Jorge Freire Jr. went to the hospital after his Apple Watch informed him of an unusually high heart rate. Freire Jr. was ultimately diagnosed with a type of arrhythmia that can result in a stroke or heart failure if left untreated.

All told, there’s a reason why some insurance companies subsidize the cost of an Apple Watch for members — the device quite literally helps save lives.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.