Apple Watch Series 4 ECG spots AFib in owner, leading to life-saving procedure

Posted:
in Apple Watch edited January 9
A man from Nashua, N.H. says he is alive because Apple's latest Watch model detected atrial fibrillation -- an irregular heartbeat.

Apple Watch Series 4 ECG


Barry Maden originally bought the wearable because of its fall detection feature, according to his wife Tara. Maden earlier experienced a brain injury, and the couple was counting on the Apple Watch to help call 911 if he fell without anyone nearby.

To his surprise however, the Apple Watch eventually popped up a notification about his heart, prompting him to see a doctor, reports WMUR. At a hospital ER he was given a full-scale electrocardiogram, which confirmed the issue. His heart was restarted under sedation.

"It would've probably taken me longer had I not had something actually telling me that something's not right," said Maden, who noted that he initially thought he was just suffering from anxiety related to holiday travels.

The Series 4 is the first Apple Watch to have a built-in ECG feature. By loading a dedicated app and holding a finger on the crown, the device can act as a single-lead ECG.

Watch users don't strictly need a Series 4 to detect atrial fibrillation, since earlier models still have optical heart sensors, but ECG technology can provide better data.

Apple has been eager to market the Watch as a potentially life-saving accessory, calling attention not just to health and fitness but things like Emergency SOS calling.



watto_cobra
«1

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 34
    AppleExposedAppleExposed Posts: 211unconfirmed, member
    This stories will become so common they won't be news anymore.
    magman1979SoliGeorgeBMacStrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 34
    After searching the Internet for "Series 4 ECG," Maden apologized for overburdening the health-care system. "I'm what's wrong with America," he said.
    radarthekatbeowulfschmidtStrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 34
    How can we be sure he wasn’t wasting that doctor’s time?!?!

    /s
    racerhomie3radarthekatdoctwelvezoetmbmwhiteGeorgeBMacMacProStrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 34
    Sweet irony this news article came out a day after The Verge ran their hit piece.
    radarthekatanantksundaramdoctwelvezoetmbRayz2016brucemcsvanstromAppleExposedStrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 34
    This is, of course, just anecdotal evidence. It neither confirms nor refutes the hypothesis proposed that Apple Watch ECGs creating false positives will do more harm to more people than they will do good through true positives, as described in this story.

    It’s also true that there doesn’t seem to be the anecdotal evidence turning up that would at least provide some support for that ‘false positives’ hypothesis. You would also imagine that for the ‘false positives’ hypothesis to have much chance to be correct, that there would need to be a pretty significant number of anecdotes turning up of people who experienced some sort of harm or at least temporary anxiety resulting from a false positive reading. This is because the amount of good as described in the story atop this thread is significant: a life saved, or at least a life-changing health crisis averted. To offset that, the harm to an individual with a false positive would either have to be just as significant (unneeded treatment resulting either in death or in a life-changing health crisis), or there would have to be a large number of people experiencing lesser, but still significant harm (e.g., large medical bills, or significant anxiety resulting from false diagnosis of ‘heart problems’).

    So far, we’re not seeing those horror stories, and it seems pretty likely we would if there were any. Remember when Apple Watch 0 came out and a handful of people discovered that the pulse reader couldn’t see through dark tattoos? A tiny number of people experienced a problem and you would’ve thought that the Apple Watch was a complete failure and Apple was going to go out of business. Generally when there is even a small problem with an Apple product, there is a disproportionate if temporary uproar about it. 
    edited January 9 radarthekatsteveaubeowulfschmidtjdgazAppleExposedStrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 34
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 2,898moderator
    What AppleZulu said.  Perfectly stated.
    jdgazAppleExposedwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 34
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 893member
    The headline and parts of the article are overblown and/or incorrect. 

    Atrial fibrillation is not directly fatal. in fact, a large number of people live for years or even decades with chronic atrial fibrillation. The two main risks imparted by the condition are thromboembolic stroke and heart failure/other issues caused by tacky cardia typically associated with atrial fibrillation. The risk for stroke is significant, but not huge and can be significantly reduced with blood thinners. The other complications are dependent on the heart rate and how long it is elevated. 

    "His heart was restarted under sedation" - wrong. HIs heart never stopped. He had a DC cardioversion to convert him from atrial fibrillation to sinus rhythm.


    steveau
  • Reply 8 of 34
    MplsP said:
    The headline and parts of the article are overblown and/or incorrect. 

    Atrial fibrillation is not directly fatal. in fact, a large number of people live for years or even decades with chronic atrial fibrillation. The two main risks imparted by the condition are thromboembolic stroke and heart failure/other issues caused by tacky cardia typically associated with atrial fibrillation. The risk for stroke is significant, but not huge and can be significantly reduced with blood thinners. The other complications are dependent on the heart rate and how long it is elevated. 

    "His heart was restarted under sedation" - wrong. HIs heart never stopped. He had a DC cardioversion to convert him from atrial fibrillation to sinus rhythm.


    Big deal. We got the point. The writers here on AI are not cardiologists.

    False positives are always a worry, and can drive up health care costs. But when someone has had a brain injury (as this person has), it’s probably better to be safe than sorry. 
    AppleExposedwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 34
    sirozhasirozha Posts: 454member
    Apple, stand behind your AFib diagnosis and incorporate a defibrillator in the Apple Watch Series 5. 

    At least, folks won’t have to rush to the emergency room once their Apple Watch diagnoses them with AFib. They can defibrillate themselves, confirm that the AFib was converted to a sinus rythm with another EKG, and then happily go about their daily chores. 

    edited January 9 steveauAppleExposedwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 34
    zoetmbzoetmb Posts: 2,378member
    AppleZulu said:
    This is, of course, just anecdotal evidence. It neither confirms nor refutes the hypothesis proposed that Apple Watch ECGs creating false positives will do more harm to more people than they will do good through true positives, as described in this story.

    It’s also true that there doesn’t seem to be the anecdotal evidence turning up that would at least provide some support for that ‘false positives’ hypothesis. You would also imagine that for the ‘false positives’ hypothesis to have much chance to be correct, that there would need to be a pretty significant number of anecdotes turning up of people who experienced some sort of harm or at least temporary anxiety resulting from a false positive reading. This is because the amount of good as described in the story atop this thread is significant: a life saved, or at least a life-changing health crisis averted. To offset that, the harm to an individual with a false positive would either have to be just as significant (unneeded treatment resulting either in death or in a life-changing health crisis), or there would have to be a large number of people experiencing lesser, but still significant harm (e.g., large medical bills, or significant anxiety resulting from false diagnosis of ‘heart problems’).

    So far, we’re not seeing those horror stories, and it seems pretty likely we would if there were any. Remember when Apple Watch 0 came out and a handful of people discovered that the pulse reader couldn’t see through dark tattoos? A tiny number of people experienced a problem and you would’ve thought that the Apple Watch was a complete failure and Apple was going to go out of business. Generally when there is even a small problem with an Apple product, there is a disproportionate if temporary uproar about it. 
    People don't need an Apple Watch to be paranoid about their health - they can do that all on their own.   And, especially because they're afraid of the unknown costs, even if they have health insurance (co-pays and deductibles), people tend to avoid going to the doctor even when they need to.   One of the biggest problems in American healthcare today is not people overburdening their doctors with psychosomatic illnesses or worried because they read something online or took a test at home -- it's people who don't see a doctor often enough or when something starts to appear to be wrong and then they wind up in the emergency room, which is the most expensive way to deliver medical care.   

    I don't have an Apple Watch or any similar device and I don't plan to get one, but from my perspective, I think they'll do far more good than harm (but that's just an opinion).  Time will tell whether that's the case and right now, no one knows either way.   

    Having said that, as we age, we do tend to be more paranoid about our health, if only because we see bad things happening to friends and relatives around us as they age.   I was never paranoid about my health, but as I see many friends and relatives wind up with cancer, diabetes, hip replacements, etc., I have to admit that I've become  a lot more paranoid myself (even if I don't actually do anything about it.)
    StrangeDays
  • Reply 11 of 34
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,518member
    AppleZulu said:
    This is, of course, just anecdotal evidence. It neither confirms nor refutes the hypothesis proposed that Apple Watch ECGs creating false positives will do more harm to more people than they will do good through true positives, as described in this story.

    It’s also true that there doesn’t seem to be the anecdotal evidence turning up that would at least provide some support for that ‘false positives’ hypothesis. You would also imagine that for the ‘false positives’ hypothesis to have much chance to be correct, that there would need to be a pretty significant number of anecdotes turning up of people who experienced some sort of harm or at least temporary anxiety resulting from a false positive reading. This is because the amount of good as described in the story atop this thread is significant: a life saved, or at least a life-changing health crisis averted. To offset that, the harm to an individual with a false positive would either have to be just as significant (unneeded treatment resulting either in death or in a life-changing health crisis), or there would have to be a large number of people experiencing lesser, but still significant harm (e.g., large medical bills, or significant anxiety resulting from false diagnosis of ‘heart problems’).

    So far, we’re not seeing those horror stories, and it seems pretty likely we would if there were any. Remember when Apple Watch 0 came out and a handful of people discovered that the pulse reader couldn’t see through dark tattoos? A tiny number of people experienced a problem and you would’ve thought that the Apple Watch was a complete failure and Apple was going to go out of business. Generally when there is even a small problem with an Apple product, there is a disproportionate if temporary uproar about it. 
    Well said. 

    The notion that a doctor would order open heart surgery on the strength of an Apple Watch reading is both laughable and insulting to medical practitioners everywhere. 
    edited January 10 AppleExposedwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 34
    bwikbwik Posts: 555member
    The Jesus watches undoubtedly will save the human race, and this is a medical fact that cannot be challenged.  In my opinion as a layperson.
  • Reply 13 of 34
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,518member
    bwik said:
    The Jesus watches undoubtedly will save the human race, and this is a medical fact that cannot be challenged.  In my opinion as a layperson.
    You are mistaken, layperson. THESE are the Jesus watches. 


    AppleExposedbestkeptsecretwatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 34
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,518member

    Sweet irony this news article came out a day after The Verge ran their hit piece.
    “Doc! You gotta help me! I dropped a brick on my Apple Watch, and now it says I’m dead!”

    ”Feel bad for you, son. I’m gonna have a couple of orderlies wheel you straight down to the morgue.”


    AppleExposedwatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 34
    MplsP said:
    The headline and parts of the article are overblown and/or incorrect. 

    Atrial fibrillation is not directly fatal. in fact, a large number of people live for years or even decades with chronic atrial fibrillation. The two main risks imparted by the condition are thromboembolic stroke and heart failure/other issues caused by tacky cardia typically associated with atrial fibrillation. The risk for stroke is significant, but not huge and can be significantly reduced with blood thinners. The other complications are dependent on the heart rate and how long it is elevated. 

    "His heart was restarted under sedation" - wrong. HIs heart never stopped. He had a DC cardioversion to convert him from atrial fibrillation to sinus rhythm.


    Exactly my thoughts. Atrial fibrillation is not a life threatening condition, so saying the guy's life was saved by the watch is way overblown.
    Lots of people live with AF for months or years without even recognizing they have it.
    AF typically affects the older population who in general already have significantly increased risk for cardiovascular diseases. On top of that, according to Wikipedia, AF increases the risk of heart failure by 1.1%, kidney problems by 0.6%, death by 0.4%, stroke by 0.3%, and coronary artery disease by 0.1%. Not insignificant, but not an emergency either.

    In the end the Apple Watch's built in ECG may have a a worse negative effect on healthcare than prostate cancer screening. For those who don't know that story, most urologist now agree that screening for prostate cancer causes more harm than benefits because of over-diagnosis. The issue stems from the fact that the screening is not 100% accurate, so a small number of people will be diagnosed with the condition even when they don't have it, and they will go through invasive procedures to cure a problem that doesn't need to be cured, resulting in high cost and complications. All in all more people are harmed by the over-diagnosis than the number of people who are harmed by undetected cancer
    .
  • Reply 16 of 34
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 3,873administrator
    MplsP said:
    The headline and parts of the article are overblown and/or incorrect. 

    Atrial fibrillation is not directly fatal. in fact, a large number of people live for years or even decades with chronic atrial fibrillation. The two main risks imparted by the condition are thromboembolic stroke and heart failure/other issues caused by tacky cardia typically associated with atrial fibrillation. The risk for stroke is significant, but not huge and can be significantly reduced with blood thinners. The other complications are dependent on the heart rate and how long it is elevated. 

    "His heart was restarted under sedation" - wrong. HIs heart never stopped. He had a DC cardioversion to convert him from atrial fibrillation to sinus rhythm.


    Exactly my thoughts. Atrial fibrillation is not a life threatening condition, so saying the guy's life was saved by the watch is way overblown.
    Lots of people live with AF for months or years without even recognizing they have it.
    AF typically affects the older population who in general already have significantly increased risk for cardiovascular diseases. On top of that, according to Wikipedia, AF increases the risk of heart failure by 1.1%, kidney problems by 0.6%, death by 0.4%, stroke by 0.3%, and coronary artery disease by 0.1%. Not insignificant, but not an emergency either.

    In the end the Apple Watch's built in ECG may have a a worse negative effect on healthcare than prostate cancer screening. For those who don't know that story, most urologist now agree that screening for prostate cancer causes more harm than benefits because of over-diagnosis. The issue stems from the fact that the screening is not 100% accurate, so a small number of people will be diagnosed with the condition even when they don't have it, and they will go through invasive procedures to cure a problem that doesn't need to be cured, resulting in high cost and complications. All in all more people are harmed by the over-diagnosis than the number of people who are harmed by undetected cancer.
    Utter bullshit.

    What the doctor does with that data is the issue. Not the watch.
    king editor the grateGeorgeBMacAppleExposedStrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 34
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,835member
    Rayz2016 said:
    AppleZulu said:
    This is, of course, just anecdotal evidence. It neither confirms nor refutes the hypothesis proposed that Apple Watch ECGs creating false positives will do more harm to more people than they will do good through true positives, as described in this story.

    It’s also true that there doesn’t seem to be the anecdotal evidence turning up that would at least provide some support for that ‘false positives’ hypothesis. You would also imagine that for the ‘false positives’ hypothesis to have much chance to be correct, that there would need to be a pretty significant number of anecdotes turning up of people who experienced some sort of harm or at least temporary anxiety resulting from a false positive reading. This is because the amount of good as described in the story atop this thread is significant: a life saved, or at least a life-changing health crisis averted. To offset that, the harm to an individual with a false positive would either have to be just as significant (unneeded treatment resulting either in death or in a life-changing health crisis), or there would have to be a large number of people experiencing lesser, but still significant harm (e.g., large medical bills, or significant anxiety resulting from false diagnosis of ‘heart problems’).

    So far, we’re not seeing those horror stories, and it seems pretty likely we would if there were any. Remember when Apple Watch 0 came out and a handful of people discovered that the pulse reader couldn’t see through dark tattoos? A tiny number of people experienced a problem and you would’ve thought that the Apple Watch was a complete failure and Apple was going to go out of business. Generally when there is even a small problem with an Apple product, there is a disproportionate if temporary uproar about it. 
    Well said. 

    The notion that a doctor would order open heart surgery on the strength of an Apple Watch reading is both laughable and insulting to medical practitioners everywhere. 
    I would not be surprised if the same thing was said about those darn home thermometers in their day.  People taking their own temperatures gee, imagine the burden on doctors.
    GeorgeBMacStrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 34
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,835member
    MplsP said:
    The headline and parts of the article are overblown and/or incorrect. 

    Atrial fibrillation is not directly fatal. in fact, a large number of people live for years or even decades with chronic atrial fibrillation. The two main risks imparted by the condition are thromboembolic stroke and heart failure/other issues caused by tacky cardia typically associated with atrial fibrillation. The risk for stroke is significant, but not huge and can be significantly reduced with blood thinners. The other complications are dependent on the heart rate and how long it is elevated. 

    "His heart was restarted under sedation" - wrong. HIs heart never stopped. He had a DC cardioversion to convert him from atrial fibrillation to sinus rhythm.


    Exactly my thoughts. Atrial fibrillation is not a life threatening condition, so saying the guy's life was saved by the watch is way overblown.
    Lots of people live with AF for months or years without even recognizing they have it.
    AF typically affects the older population who in general already have significantly increased risk for cardiovascular diseases. On top of that, according to Wikipedia, AF increases the risk of heart failure by 1.1%, kidney problems by 0.6%, death by 0.4%, stroke by 0.3%, and coronary artery disease by 0.1%. Not insignificant, but not an emergency either.

    In the end the Apple Watch's built in ECG may have a a worse negative effect on healthcare than prostate cancer screening. For those who don't know that story, most urologist now agree that screening for prostate cancer causes more harm than benefits because of over-diagnosis. The issue stems from the fact that the screening is not 100% accurate, so a small number of people will be diagnosed with the condition even when they don't have it, and they will go through invasive procedures to cure a problem that doesn't need to be cured, resulting in high cost and complications. All in all more people are harmed by the over-diagnosis than the number of people who are harmed by undetected cancer.
    Utter bullshit.

    What the doctor does with that data is the issue. Not the watch.
    I agree with you with one caveat.  In the USA one always has to have half an eye for any financial motives for treatment since medicine is practiced for profit, not altruism.
    gatorguyGeorgeBMacwatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 34
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 3,409member
    AppleZulu said:
    This is, of course, just anecdotal evidence. It neither confirms nor refutes the hypothesis proposed that Apple Watch ECGs creating false positives will do more harm to more people than they will do good through true positives, as described in this story.

    It’s also true that there doesn’t seem to be the anecdotal evidence turning up that would at least provide some support for that ‘false positives’ hypothesis. You would also imagine that for the ‘false positives’ hypothesis to have much chance to be correct, that there would need to be a pretty significant number of anecdotes turning up of people who experienced some sort of harm or at least temporary anxiety resulting from a false positive reading. This is because the amount of good as described in the story atop this thread is significant: a life saved, or at least a life-changing health crisis averted. To offset that, the harm to an individual with a false positive would either have to be just as significant (unneeded treatment resulting either in death or in a life-changing health crisis), or there would have to be a large number of people experiencing lesser, but still significant harm (e.g., large medical bills, or significant anxiety resulting from false diagnosis of ‘heart problems’).

    So far, we’re not seeing those horror stories, and it seems pretty likely we would if there were any. Remember when Apple Watch 0 came out and a handful of people discovered that the pulse reader couldn’t see through dark tattoos? A tiny number of people experienced a problem and you would’ve thought that the Apple Watch was a complete failure and Apple was going to go out of business. Generally when there is even a small problem with an Apple product, there is a disproportionate if temporary uproar about it. 
    Just for the sake of example, let's flip that:   Let's assume that there IS actually a problem with "too many" false positives.  The result would be a number of people going in for some very cheap, simple, routine EKG's.  That is a relatively minor problem -- particularly when compared to the risk of living the remainder of one's life with a debilitating stroke.  

    Compare that to the millions going in for routine colonoscopies that cost thousands but yet 99% find nothing -- while far cheaper, simpler and safer methods that are 90% as effective are available.

    The American healthcare industry only cares about "false positives" when they don't reap the benefit.  Colonoscopies bring in BIG bucks to the healthcare profession -- so they have no problem spending millions of our dollars for a 0.1% improvement in diagnostic effectiveness.

    But, let one person go to their doctor with a false positive EKG and its headline news!
  • Reply 20 of 34
    brucemcbrucemc Posts: 1,488member
    Here is my view on the debate between the (theoretical) false positive issue, against the potential for benefit.  It is above individuals vs. "statistics".  

    As an individual with an AW, I now have the possibility to detect a few issues today, that were not possible a couple years ago, which *could* have minor to significant impacts on my health.  The downside to me is basically zero - I would have purchased the AW anyways for other reasons, and a simple doctors visit isn't costly - and I certainly would not allow the medical system to perform any checks or procedures which I didn't agree with or could cause harm, solely based on an AW result (as if the medical system is likely to do that anyways).  This is the individual benefit - it literally could *help* your health in minor to major ways (by spotting an issue earlier, perhaps much earlier, than otherwise).

    The downsides of the (theoretical) false positives in this case are found only in statistics.  Highly aggregated group data, analyzed in ways that are not shared in the headlines (how is the data collected / analyzed / used - how do "they" determine there is no benefit, it was a downside, that it the negatives outweigh the positives, ).  It is faceless, and even if true, is about an aggregate - not "me".  It is my health I am concerned with, not what a theoretical impact these new sensors might have on the global health care industry because some persons might be hypochondriacs.
Sign In or Register to comment.