Apple Watch's heart rate sensors alert man to undiagnosed atrial fibrillation

Posted:
in Apple Watch edited May 28
An Apple Watch owner in England was recently rescued by a watchOS alert that his heart rate had suddenly spiked, even though he otherwise felt fine.

applewatch2-heartrate


Kevin Pearson was already at a hospital accompanying his father to an appointment, when his Watch warned him that his heart had surged to 161 beats per minute, The Independent said on Monday. That rate is higher than what many athletes reach in the middle of intense exercise.

Despite not feeling any symptoms of a heart attack, Pearson said he followed the Watch's instructions and sat down, keeping an eye on his heart rate for several minutes. It ebbed and flowed, down from its original peak but still ranging between 79 and 135 beats per minute.

Pearson was concerned that the Watch was inaccurate, but asked doctors to check regardless. They discovered that he was suffering from atrial fibrillation, and directed him to specialists at a bigger hospital, where the seriousness of the situation was reconfirmed.

He wrote Apple CEO Tim Cook in thanks, and as of today he's set his Watch to alert him to spikes over 120 beats per minute.

"I've used my Apple Watch for calendar events, to complete its targets by exercising, and using it to lose weight," Pearson remarked. "The heart rate wasn't really of any particular value, and I didn't even know it could alert you if it was too high."

Though the accuracy of the Watch's heart rate sensors isn't infallible -- it can sometimes fluctuate widely, including during exercise -- Apple has made a particular point of emphasizing health uses. The company is even running the Apple Heart Study in conjunction with Stanford Medicine, one benefit being people who receive alerts similar to Pearson's can be put in touch with professionals and even sent an EKG patch.
lolliver
«1

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 36
    cjk91108cjk91108 Posts: 1member
    Good story and great feature but your HR info is a bit off. As an amateur bicycle racer, my max HR is above that and I’m low for my peers. So to say that 161 is higher than most during intense activity may be a disservice. Max has to do with training, age and size and one should never assume from another’s max or working HR. 
    larryjwlolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 36
    frantisekfrantisek Posts: 343member
    this one of the ways where Apple put its bets for future. Phone becomes commodity but helping people being more healthy, can bring number of valuable customers.It will not be as easy to replicate as doing "we can do it as well" phone.. At leas not by cheep knock offs.
    claire1jbdragonviclauyycwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 36
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,210member
    cjk91108 said:
    Good story and great feature but your HR info is a bit off. As an amateur bicycle racer, my max HR is above that and I’m low for my peers. So to say that 161 is higher than most during intense activity may be a disservice. Max has to do with training, age and size and one should never assume from another’s max or working HR. 
    That sentence in the article could be better, but it's not wrong. The "rate is higher than what many athletes reach in the middle of intense exercise," with the the use of many giving no specific number (not even a ballpark figure) and athletes spanning any age or sport. Golfers are athletes but I doubt their heart rate spikes at any age, and an octogenarian running a marathon are athletes who's peak max shouldn't be over 140±11 using the 220 minus age formula.

    My heart rate peaks at just under 170 when my workout is intense. I know this because of the Apple Watch, but I also don't need my Watch to tell me I'm at my max as I can feel my pulse rate through every part of my body (without even using my fingers to count). Of course, I wear my Watch because one day warn me about an atypical situation. I also wear my Watch to bed and use the app Sleep Watch. On days that I burn 475+ Active Calories in a single session I have 6% better sleep that night.
    edited May 28 GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 4 of 36
    deminsddeminsd Posts: 68member
    You don't know your heart rate is racing at 161bpm until an Apple Watch alerts you?
  • Reply 5 of 36
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,210member
    deminsd said:
    You don't know your heart rate is racing at 161bpm until an Apple Watch alerts you?
    🤦‍♂️
  • Reply 6 of 36
    Soli said:
    deminsd said:
    You don't know your heart rate is racing at 161bpm until an Apple Watch alerts you?
    🤦‍♂️
    Not necessarily, when you’re asleep. I did not wake every time the watch measured racing. But I did sometimes and found out the measurements were real. 
  • Reply 7 of 36
    macmarcusmacmarcus Posts: 34member
    deminsd said:
    You don't know your heart rate is racing at 161bpm until an Apple Watch alerts you?
    It is possible. I got a flu shot for the season. I don't get them every year but since college where they gave them in the library have had probably 10+ in all over the years without issue. I had a severe allergic reaction about 10-15 minutes later where I felt funny and maybe a bit faint --- looked at my Apple Watch and heart rate was 195 bpm. I was in disbelief and adjusted the watch (and manually checked my pulse too) - stayed in the 190-195 range for about 20 minutes until the tachycardia self-converted. Weird experience and I wouldn't have known my heart rate was that high otherwise. I didn't get an alert on my Apple Watch though. So yes you can get a racing heart rate and not really know what is going on.
    edited May 28 jony0viclauyyclolliver
  • Reply 8 of 36
    claire1claire1 Posts: 353unconfirmed, member
    frantisek said:
    this one of the ways where Apple put its bets for future. Phone becomes commodity but helping people being more healthy, can bring number of valuable customers.It will not be as easy to replicate as doing "we can do it as well" phone.. At leas not by cheep knock offs.
    I've noticed Apple never brags about saving lives but this is important. Non-invasive glucose monitoring would kick start Apple Watch as the one health sensor to rule them all.
    lolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 36
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,040member
    Soli said:
    deminsd said:
    You don't know your heart rate is racing at 161bpm until an Apple Watch alerts you?
    🤦‍♂️
    I have an uncle who was frog-marched to hospital by my aunt because his shortness of breath was not getting better. 

    What she thought was pneumonia turned out to be a heart attack. Not only that, but after a thorough battery of tests the doctors informed that this was probably the smaller of two heart attacks he’d suffered in a week. 

    The week ended with a bypass and drugs he’ll need to take for the rest of his life. 

    So yes, it’s entirely possible that someone might not notice an unusually fast heart rate. 
    jony0jbdragonviclauyycGeorgeBMaclolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 36
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,210member
    Rayz2016 said:
    Soli said:
    deminsd said:
    You don't know your heart rate is racing at 161bpm until an Apple Watch alerts you?
    ߤ榺wj;♂️
    I have an uncle who was frog-marched to hospital by my aunt because his shortness of breath was not getting better. 

    What she thought was pneumonia turned out to be a heart attack. Not only that, but after a thorough battery of tests the doctors informed that this was probably the smaller of two heart attacks he’d suffered in a week. 

    The week ended with a bypass and drugs he’ll need to take for the rest of his life. 

    So yes, it’s entirely possible that someone might not notice an unusually fast heart rate. 
    And how does one tell if it's a heart attack v panic attack v asthma attack or any other potential ailment? I only know what my max heart range is from years of looking at my heart rate whilst exercising when pushing myself to the limit and feeling everything throb. I have a statistical history in which to draw comparisons about is and isn't normal for me for a given level of exertion. And that's range, like ±10 BPM (at best), not some weirdly specific 161, as the OP questioned as if we can determine our exact BPM just by thinking about it.
    edited May 28 Rayz2016
  • Reply 11 of 36
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,210member
    claire1 said:
    frantisek said:
    this one of the ways where Apple put its bets for future. Phone becomes commodity but helping people being more healthy, can bring number of valuable customers.It will not be as easy to replicate as doing "we can do it as well" phone.. At leas not by cheep knock offs.
    I've noticed Apple never brags about saving lives but this is important. Non-invasive glucose monitoring would kick start Apple Watch as the one health sensor to rule them all.
    When it comes to health monitoring I'd imagine Apple wants to play it safe. If they're overly braggadocios about its medical benefits they might open themselves to more lawsuits than if they make it more of a side benefit for using the device.

    I assume that there are plenty of other health monitoring they could do that would work for the major of the population but nixed because it's not good enough for them with their mindshare and reputation. Smaller companies can take bigger risks on such claims, I'd imagine.
  • Reply 12 of 36
    cjk91108 said:
    Good story and great feature but your HR info is a bit off. As an amateur bicycle racer, my max HR is above that and I’m low for my peers. So to say that 161 is higher than most during intense activity may be a disservice. Max has to do with training, age and size and one should never assume from another’s max or working HR. 
    I wouldn't use the example of a highly trained and fit bicycle racer as an example of what is or isn't max heart rate. If your heart rate exceeds 160 SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL ATTENTION.
  • Reply 13 of 36
    claire1claire1 Posts: 353unconfirmed, member
    Soli said:
    claire1 said:
    frantisek said:
    this one of the ways where Apple put its bets for future. Phone becomes commodity but helping people being more healthy, can bring number of valuable customers.It will not be as easy to replicate as doing "we can do it as well" phone.. At leas not by cheep knock offs.
    I've noticed Apple never brags about saving lives but this is important. Non-invasive glucose monitoring would kick start Apple Watch as the one health sensor to rule them all.
    When it comes to health monitoring I'd imagine Apple wants to play it safe. If they're overly braggadocios about its medical benefits they might open themselves to more lawsuits than if they make it more of a side benefit for using the device.

    I assume that there are plenty of other health monitoring they could do that would work for the major of the population but nixed because it's not good enough for them with their mindshare and reputation. Smaller companies can take bigger risks on such claims, I'd imagine.
    The funny thing with these lawsuits is that the Watch won't kill you. It will only help you but people are always looking for ways to attack good companies.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 36
    claire1claire1 Posts: 353unconfirmed, member
    Soli said:
    claire1 said:
    frantisek said:
    this one of the ways where Apple put its bets for future. Phone becomes commodity but helping people being more healthy, can bring number of valuable customers.It will not be as easy to replicate as doing "we can do it as well" phone.. At leas not by cheep knock offs.
    I've noticed Apple never brags about saving lives but this is important. Non-invasive glucose monitoring would kick start Apple Watch as the one health sensor to rule them all.
    When it comes to health monitoring I'd imagine Apple wants to play it safe. If they're overly braggadocios about its medical benefits they might open themselves to more lawsuits than if they make it more of a side benefit for using the device.

    I assume that there are plenty of other health monitoring they could do that would work for the major of the population but nixed because it's not good enough for them with their mindshare and reputation. Smaller companies can take bigger risks on such claims, I'd imagine.
    The funny thing with these lawsuits is that the Watch won't kill you, it will only help you.
  • Reply 15 of 36
    larryjwlarryjw Posts: 248member
    I can tell you with certainty that Apple Watch is inaccurate in water. Apple Watch says 200 BPM while swimming leisurely. 


  • Reply 16 of 36
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,210member
    claire1 said:
    Soli said:
    claire1 said:
    frantisek said:
    this one of the ways where Apple put its bets for future. Phone becomes commodity but helping people being more healthy, can bring number of valuable customers.It will not be as easy to replicate as doing "we can do it as well" phone.. At leas not by cheep knock offs.
    I've noticed Apple never brags about saving lives but this is important. Non-invasive glucose monitoring would kick start Apple Watch as the one health sensor to rule them all.
    When it comes to health monitoring I'd imagine Apple wants to play it safe. If they're overly braggadocios about its medical benefits they might open themselves to more lawsuits than if they make it more of a side benefit for using the device.

    I assume that there are plenty of other health monitoring they could do that would work for the major of the population but nixed because it's not good enough for them with their mindshare and reputation. Smaller companies can take bigger risks on such claims, I'd imagine.
    The funny thing with these lawsuits is that the Watch won't kill you, it will only help you.
    I don't have the imagination to think in the bizarre to unethical ways these lawyers look for reasons to go after Apple. For example, I can see that on one end the Watch might display that your heart rate, while at rest, shot up to something that could be a potential problem and notified the user of this problem, so they took an ambulance to the hospital, got checked out, tests were performed, but nothing was found. Now they have a huge medical bill not covered by their insurance (this is the US, obviously), and now they want Apple to pay for their false alarm. Then on the other end you have the Watch being too cautious or not catching an event soon enough so Apple is sued for the monitoring device they were relying on failed to indicate a problem before it was too late.

    If Apple doesn't eventually get sued for the Watch in terms of health monitoring I'll be surprised. So far I'm only seeing a week lawsuit for Apple haven't stolen their tech.
    edited May 28
  • Reply 17 of 36
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,210member
    larryjw said:
    I can tell you with certainty that Apple Watch is inaccurate in water. Apple Watch says 200 BPM while swimming leisurely. 
    I haven't noticed BPM, but I have noticed that it gets my distance wrong. I usually end up with close to double the distance of what I should be swimming. I've tried to recalibrate, verify the settings, and I'm only doing the front crawl. Perhaps I should try different stories or even try measuring the pool myself instead of taking the facility's word for it.
  • Reply 18 of 36
    trumptmantrumptman Posts: 16,448member
    deminsd said:
    You don't know your heart rate is racing at 161bpm until an Apple Watch alerts you?
    Not with atrial fibrillation you often don't. I was treated for it and was part of the 50% that could feel the irregular rhythm and the fast heartbeat. However another gentleman I met never felt it, had his heat in afib for three days and suffered a minor stroke.

    I have had a cardiac ablation to fix my afib but it is a real thing and while not often life threatening can raise risk of stroke.
    SoliGeorgeBMacwatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 36
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 2,755member
    frantisek said:
    this one of the ways where Apple put its bets for future. Phone becomes commodity but helping people being more healthy, can bring number of valuable customers.It will not be as easy to replicate as doing "we can do it as well" phone.. At leas not by cheep knock offs.
    True... 
    But I don't think Apple did it with the motivation of increasing either customers or revenue.  That's what common, profit motivated companies do...   "What's in it for us?"

    Instead, I believe, Apple focuses on putting out the best product they can -- and enhancing it when they can -- and letting the customers and revenue derive from that...
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 36
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 2,755member
    deminsd said:
    You don't know your heart rate is racing at 161bpm until an Apple Watch alerts you?
    Very probably not in this case...

    Most people confuse breathing and shortness of breath from exercise with a high heart rate.  In that case, the heart rate is high trying supply the muscles with the oxygen they need.  But the physical sensation & discomfort is from the sensation of (essentially) suffocating along with the chest muscles pumping the lungs to inhale and exhale enough air.

    But, A-Fib is just the electrical system of the heart itself is out of wack and, unless you're taking your pulse, you won't feel much physical sensation.  More likely just a vague fluttering in the chest that is easily ignored or overlooked.
    trumptmanwatto_cobra
Sign In or Register to comment.