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Apple Watch is even saving the lives of doctors now by alerting them to heart conditions

Published Nov 25th, 2019 6:04PM EST
Apple Watch
Image: JUSTIN LANE/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

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At this point, there’s no shortage of Apple Watch users who credit this impressive piece of wearable tech with saving their life by alerting them to a potential heart condition. The watch can, of course, do a whole lot more, from alerting you to emails, playing music, and other mundane tasks, but each time one of these users steps forward to credit the device with catching a serious heart condition early, it offers a reminder of how meaningful a product the watch is — and that it’s not just another expensive gadget to shoehorn into your life.

In one of the latest cases, the user in question was someone you’d assume wouldn’t need a helpful nudge. He’s Dr. Ray Emerson, a 79-year-old Texas veterinarian who said he recently got a notification from the watch, which caused him to look down and notice that “[it] said you are in atrial fibrillation [AFib for short].”

That’s a potentially serious condition in which the heart’s upper chambers aren’t in sync with the lower chambers. Emerson told CBS Austin that the watch “told me I wasn’t feeling as good as I thought I was.” He made a bee-line for his doctor, who confirmed the news. “Ray,” he recounted, “your watch is right. You are in atrial fibrillation.”

Emerson then underwent surgery. According to Dr. Jason Zagrodsky of Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Institute at St. David’s Medical Center, at least a couple of times a week someone comes in purely on the basis of their Apple Watch alerting them to a problem. Most people, he told the Austin station, don’t know there’s something wrong with them up to that point.

Emerson would have remained in that latter category, but for a lucky bit of happenstance: He laments that he’d been “too cheap” to buy the watch for himself, but luckily someone gave it to him as a gift. A person might have a handful of AFib episodes during the course of the day, but Zagrodsky said the watch’s value is that it doesn’t need be perfect: “It only needs to detect one of those to make the diagnosis.”

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.