Doctor credits Apple Watch for saving his life

Posted:
in General Discussion
The Apple Watch has saved another life, according to a story shared by a California-based anesthesiologist who claims it helped him discover his own hidden heart condition that requires corrective surgery.




Apple claims that the Apple Watch is only capable of detecting atrial fibrillation -- also known as aFib -- a form of irregular, rapid heart rate that can cause poor blood flow. However, one Californian doctor says his Apple Watch helped detect underlying heart disease in himself.

Dr. Donald W Milne from Antelope Valley Hospital shared the story with 9to5Mac, and also sent the story to Tim Cook
I have the first generation of the Apple Watch to be able to do heart monitoring. I know that the primary intended use is to monitor for atrial fibrillation. As a 66 year old anesthesiologist I use my watch for many occasions.

However a number of months ago I was working out on an elliptical machine, And I experienced more shortness of breath than usual for a workout. I used the ECG function to take an ECG at that time.

I observed ST segment depression on the tracing. That resolved and returned to normal with rest. This was again documented by the tracings.

I had no history of any heart disease prior to this incident.

An appointment with my primary care physician obtained a resting ECG in her office that was normal. However upon showing the tracing with the ischemia she agreed and referred me to a cardiologist at John Muir Concord hospital .

He agreed as well with the assessment and upon having an angiogram yesterday the finding of critical diffuse coronary artery disease was found and I am now scheduled for a 5 vessel bypass and aortic valve replacement on July 13 2020.

A long story short is that without the Apple Watch tracing I would never have known I had disease in time to be able to intervene before having a potentially fatal heart attack.

The Apple Watch has clearly saved my life.
Of course, being able to interpret his ECG readings accurately played a large part in his ability to diagnose that something was wrong.

The Apple Watch has been a health-forward device since its inception, so there has been no shortage of stories where it has helped save people's lives.

In February AppleInsider reported on an Oklahoman teen got an Apple Watch alert stating he had an unusually high heart rate while being seated in class. Ultimately, his doctors diagnosed him with Supraventricular Tachycardia, and he spent eight hours in surgery and has since made a full recovery.

In June, a 92-year-old retired Nebraska farmer credited the Apple Watch Fall Detection feature with saving his life after a 21-foot fall.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 25
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 10,557member
    My own cardiologist (a younger man) advises me to wear my Watch to bed. Bottom line is that doctors are beginning to realize the feature is not a useless marketing gimmick as some here have claimed in the past.
    jony0chaickamacplusplusraoulduke42
  • Reply 2 of 25
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,430member
    The quoting is messed up on the main article page. The conversation/forum page looks correct.
  • Reply 3 of 25
    amarkapamarkap Posts: 73member
    I don't mean to take away from the positive message of this story and I love my Apple Watch as much as the next person.  But in this case, I'm sure I would say it was the Apple Watch that saved this person's life.  Truth be told, he could have done the same with any at-home portable ECG device.  To be honest, I would say that fact that he was an anesthesiologist and his medical knowledge probably saved his life more than anything else.

    Anyway, it is still a positive story and I'm happy he is on the road to good health...and no doubt the Apple Watch is an incredible device whose application far exceeds that of just setting alarms and knowing the time. 
  • Reply 4 of 25
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,957member
    amarkap said:
    I don't mean to take away from the positive message of this story and I love my Apple Watch as much as the next person.  But in this case, I'm sure I would say it was the Apple Watch that saved this person's life.  Truth be told, he could have done the same with any at-home portable ECG device.  
    I know three doctors, and not one of them takes a portable ECG with them when they go to the gym.

    jony0chaickacharlesatlasequality72521king editor the grateraoulduke42lolliverviclauyycbeowulfschmidt
  • Reply 5 of 25
    sphericspheric Posts: 2,626member
    amarkap said:
    I don't mean to take away from the positive message of this story and I love my Apple Watch as much as the next person.  But in this case, I'm sure I would say it was the Apple Watch that saved this person's life.  Truth be told, he could have done the same with any at-home portable ECG device.  To be honest, I would say that fact that he was an anesthesiologist and his medical knowledge probably saved his life more than anything else.
    Agreed - to a point. What saved him was actually having an "at-home portable ECG device" when it was happening

    I don't know anybody who has an at-home portable ECG device sitting in the medicine cabinet.
    jony0chaickaequality72521king editor the gratesvanstrom
  • Reply 6 of 25
    chaickachaicka Posts: 257member
    lkrupp said:
    My own cardiologist (a younger man) advises me to wear my Watch to bed. Bottom line is that doctors are beginning to realize the feature is not a useless marketing gimmick as some here have claimed in the past.
    Indeed. I was one of those early adopters and in the past, doctors whom I have visited would sarcastically comment about wearing Watch. And when I shared on some occasions with the doctor on how my various long term spinal and neck related problems seem to have ease off after 6-12 months of wearing an Watch, they mostly gave me an attitude.

    Fast forward to now, several years since Watch released, I am seeing more doctors giving due recognition and even making note of readings from my Watch (e.g. elevated resting heart rate during migraine attacks). It's definitely a welcome change in attitude from the medical care industries/services.
    lolliverviclauyyc
  • Reply 7 of 25
    chaickachaicka Posts: 257member

    amarkap said:
    I don't mean to take away from the positive message of this story and I love my Apple Watch as much as the next person.  But in this case, I'm sure I would say it was the Apple Watch that saved this person's life.  Truth be told, he could have done the same with any at-home portable ECG device.  To be honest, I would say that fact that he was an anesthesiologist and his medical knowledge probably saved his life more than anything else.

    Anyway, it is still a positive story and I'm happy he is on the road to good health...and no doubt the Apple Watch is an incredible device whose application far exceeds that of just setting alarms and knowing the time. 
    I think you may have overlook a key point - "during a workout, an ECG is perform" at that exact moment in time. This is extremely useful and important. I have close buddy who suffered heart issue and went through surgery after months of inability for the doctors to diagnose what's wrong. It took the 5th attack of heavy heart pondering symptom which he was finally able to reach A&E within 15-20 mins while the symptom was still occurring for the medical team to finally pick up what is happening and acknowledge there is indeed a serious problem. He went for the first surgery within a short timeframe, and 1-2 months later, a second surgery (cause the doctor worries if his body can take both surgeries done at one go). Unfortunately, this happened before Watch Series 4 was even announced/available, and he was having Watch Series 3 back then.

    To summarise, ECG is mostly only useful when done during symptom happens. This seems to be pretty common knowledge with doctors I have spoken to. Often than not, ECG done during normal times usually do not pick up many of the heart problems/diseases that ain't  having persistent/constant symptom.
    edited July 2020 amarkapequality72521sphericmacpluspluslolliverviclauyycsvanstrom
  • Reply 8 of 25
    amarkapamarkap Posts: 73member
    chaicka said:

    amarkap said:
    I don't mean to take away from the positive message of this story and I love my Apple Watch as much as the next person.  But in this case, I'm sure I would say it was the Apple Watch that saved this person's life.  Truth be told, he could have done the same with any at-home portable ECG device.  To be honest, I would say that fact that he was an anesthesiologist and his medical knowledge probably saved his life more than anything else.

    Anyway, it is still a positive story and I'm happy he is on the road to good health...and no doubt the Apple Watch is an incredible device whose application far exceeds that of just setting alarms and knowing the time. 
    I think you may have overlook a key point - "during a workout, an ECG is perform" at that exact moment in time. This is extremely useful and important. I have close buddy who suffered heart issue and went through surgery after months of inability for the doctors to diagnose what's wrong. It took the 5th attack of heavy heart pondering symptom which he was finally able to reach A&E within 15-20 mins while the symptom was still occurring for the medical team to finally pick up what is happening and acknowledge there is indeed a serious problem. He went for the first surgery within a short timeframe, and 1-2 months later, a second surgery (cause the doctor worries if his body can take both surgeries done at one go). Unfortunately, this happened before Watch Series 4 was even announced/available, and he was having Watch Series 3 back then.

    To summarise, ECG is mostly only useful when done during symptom happens. This seems to be pretty common knowledge with doctors I have spoken to. Often than not, ECG done during normal times usually do not pick up many of the heart problems/diseases that ain't  having persistent/constant symptom.
    Wow...that was really helpful and informative.  Indeed, I lacked this knowledge when I made the post.  Thank you for taking the time to explain to me.
    equality72521sphericking editor the grateraoulduke42viclauyycTRAGDetnatorsvanstrom
  • Reply 9 of 25
    amarkapamarkap Posts: 73member
    spheric said:
    amarkap said:
    I don't mean to take away from the positive message of this story and I love my Apple Watch as much as the next person.  But in this case, I'm sure I would say it was the Apple Watch that saved this person's life.  Truth be told, he could have done the same with any at-home portable ECG device.  To be honest, I would say that fact that he was an anesthesiologist and his medical knowledge probably saved his life more than anything else.
    Agreed - to a point. What saved him was actually having an "at-home portable ECG device" when it was happening

    I don't know anybody who has an at-home portable ECG device sitting in the medicine cabinet.
    Yes, you are right...while it is happening.  You and other's have kindly explained it to me and now I understand the awesomeness of the Apple Watch and this feature and how it saved the Dr. life.  As far as ECG equipment, I did a quick Google for Portable At-Home ECG devices and it seems like they were sold online.  Right, wrong, good, bad...I am not sure but like you and other's have said, it would have been of no use when it wasn't happening.  So thank you for the reply.  I understand more now.
    sphericraoulduke42viclauyycTRAGDetnatorsvanstrom
  • Reply 10 of 25
    amarkap said:
    chaicka said:

    amarkap said:
    I don't mean to take away from the positive message of this story and I love my Apple Watch as much as the next person.  But in this case, I'm sure I would say it was the Apple Watch that saved this person's life.  Truth be told, he could have done the same with any at-home portable ECG device.  To be honest, I would say that fact that he was an anesthesiologist and his medical knowledge probably saved his life more than anything else.

    Anyway, it is still a positive story and I'm happy he is on the road to good health...and no doubt the Apple Watch is an incredible device whose application far exceeds that of just setting alarms and knowing the time. 
    I think you may have overlook a key point - "during a workout, an ECG is perform" at that exact moment in time. This is extremely useful and important. I have close buddy who suffered heart issue and went through surgery after months of inability for the doctors to diagnose what's wrong. It took the 5th attack of heavy heart pondering symptom which he was finally able to reach A&E within 15-20 mins while the symptom was still occurring for the medical team to finally pick up what is happening and acknowledge there is indeed a serious problem. He went for the first surgery within a short timeframe, and 1-2 months later, a second surgery (cause the doctor worries if his body can take both surgeries done at one go). Unfortunately, this happened before Watch Series 4 was even announced/available, and he was having Watch Series 3 back then.

    To summarise, ECG is mostly only useful when done during symptom happens. This seems to be pretty common knowledge with doctors I have spoken to. Often than not, ECG done during normal times usually do not pick up many of the heart problems/diseases that ain't  having persistent/constant symptom.
    Wow...that was really helpful and informative.  Indeed, I lacked this knowledge when I made the post.  Thank you for taking the time to explain to me.
    Imagine if more people responded to new information like this. So refreshing. 
    sphericraoulduke42XedlolliverviclauyycTRAGDetnatorsvanstrom
  • Reply 11 of 25
    sphericspheric Posts: 2,626member
    amarkap said:
    chaicka said:

    amarkap said:
    I don't mean to take away from the positive message of this story and I love my Apple Watch as much as the next person.  But in this case, I'm sure I would say it was the Apple Watch that saved this person's life.  Truth be told, he could have done the same with any at-home portable ECG device.  To be honest, I would say that fact that he was an anesthesiologist and his medical knowledge probably saved his life more than anything else.

    Anyway, it is still a positive story and I'm happy he is on the road to good health...and no doubt the Apple Watch is an incredible device whose application far exceeds that of just setting alarms and knowing the time. 
    I think you may have overlook a key point - "during a workout, an ECG is perform" at that exact moment in time. This is extremely useful and important. I have close buddy who suffered heart issue and went through surgery after months of inability for the doctors to diagnose what's wrong. It took the 5th attack of heavy heart pondering symptom which he was finally able to reach A&E within 15-20 mins while the symptom was still occurring for the medical team to finally pick up what is happening and acknowledge there is indeed a serious problem. He went for the first surgery within a short timeframe, and 1-2 months later, a second surgery (cause the doctor worries if his body can take both surgeries done at one go). Unfortunately, this happened before Watch Series 4 was even announced/available, and he was having Watch Series 3 back then.

    To summarise, ECG is mostly only useful when done during symptom happens. This seems to be pretty common knowledge with doctors I have spoken to. Often than not, ECG done during normal times usually do not pick up many of the heart problems/diseases that ain't  having persistent/constant symptom.
    Wow...that was really helpful and informative.  Indeed, I lacked this knowledge when I made the post.  Thank you for taking the time to explain to me.
    Imagine if more people responded to new information like this. So refreshing. 
    Indeed! What a gracious response! 
    raoulduke42TRAGDetnatorsvanstrom
  • Reply 12 of 25
    macmarcusmacmarcus Posts: 84member
    A lot of comments but not a lot of experience - which is understandable because small population has problems. They make wearable ECG's "patches" such as the iRhythm Zio that can be worn for continuous monitoring for up to 14 days usually. Every heart beat is recorded (not just sampled like with Apple Watch or ECG done manually like an Apple Watch ECG) and there is a button to press if you experience any symptom so those can have a more thorough review. They just stick in on the left upper chest area. Fairly unobtrusive. Again, this continuously monitors - while resting, exercising, sleeping, etc. Apple Watch has a role to play for sure, but it isn't continuous and seems to cause more concern than actually catching anything. AFib is something that increases certain health risks but mostly isn't the boggy man waiting to kill you. Glad this doctor had the knowledge to figure it out "early" ... surprised he hadn't had a stress test at his age already?
  • Reply 13 of 25
    macplusplusmacplusplus Posts: 2,114member
    macmarcus said:
    A lot of comments but not a lot of experience - which is understandable because small population has problems. They make wearable ECG's "patches" such as the iRhythm Zio that can be worn for continuous monitoring for up to 14 days usually. Every heart beat is recorded (not just sampled like with Apple Watch or ECG done manually like an Apple Watch ECG) and there is a button to press if you experience any symptom so those can have a more thorough review. They just stick in on the left upper chest area. Fairly unobtrusive. Again, this continuously monitors - while resting, exercising, sleeping, etc. Apple Watch has a role to play for sure, but it isn't continuous and seems to cause more concern than actually catching anything. AFib is something that increases certain health risks but mostly isn't the boggy man waiting to kill you. Glad this doctor had the knowledge to figure it out "early" ... surprised he hadn't had a stress test at his age already?
    You describe a rythm Holter, a multi channel portable ECG device. The point is, when you feel odd, the Holter is not available (unless you make one ready at home and pay a fortune for its analysis software). You go to the hospital and the symptom may have gone away already when they attach one to your chest. Apple Watch is always present and you have always chance to record the symptom as soon as it happens. The concern issue is just a stress management thing. If you have to be concerned you don't need Apple Watch, you can use any thing or event for that.
    edited July 2020 lolliverviclauyyc
  • Reply 14 of 25
    laytechlaytech Posts: 339member
    And yet, countries such as Australia hold out from allowing the implementation of the ECG feature. it feels like Apple has given up its pursuit for rolling the ECG feature out further. 
    svanstrom
  • Reply 15 of 25
    XedXed Posts: 2,708member
    How many lost lives has the Apple Watch potentially prevented because of early detection from aFIb, excessive heart rates during a perceived period of rest, and falls?
    lolliverviclauyyc
  • Reply 16 of 25
    amarkap said:
    chaicka said:

    amarkap said:
    I don't mean to take away from the positive message of this story and I love my Apple Watch as much as the next person.  But in this case, I'm sure I would say it was the Apple Watch that saved this person's life.  Truth be told, he could have done the same with any at-home portable ECG device.  To be honest, I would say that fact that he was an anesthesiologist and his medical knowledge probably saved his life more than anything else.

    Anyway, it is still a positive story and I'm happy he is on the road to good health...and no doubt the Apple Watch is an incredible device whose application far exceeds that of just setting alarms and knowing the time. 
    I think you may have overlook a key point - "during a workout, an ECG is perform" at that exact moment in time. This is extremely useful and important. I have close buddy who suffered heart issue and went through surgery after months of inability for the doctors to diagnose what's wrong. It took the 5th attack of heavy heart pondering symptom which he was finally able to reach A&E within 15-20 mins while the symptom was still occurring for the medical team to finally pick up what is happening and acknowledge there is indeed a serious problem. He went for the first surgery within a short timeframe, and 1-2 months later, a second surgery (cause the doctor worries if his body can take both surgeries done at one go). Unfortunately, this happened before Watch Series 4 was even announced/available, and he was having Watch Series 3 back then.

    To summarise, ECG is mostly only useful when done during symptom happens. This seems to be pretty common knowledge with doctors I have spoken to. Often than not, ECG done during normal times usually do not pick up many of the heart problems/diseases that ain't  having persistent/constant symptom.
    Wow...that was really helpful and informative.  Indeed, I lacked this knowledge when I made the post.  Thank you for taking the time to explain to me.
    Imagine if more people responded to new information like this. So refreshing. 
    amarkap, you are the Arch Anti-Troll and my new favourite person - a street in Silicon Valley should be named after you.  Please multiply and send your spawn to combat trolls throughout the Internet.
    Detnator
  • Reply 17 of 25
    lolliverlolliver Posts: 496member
    laytech said:
    And yet, countries such as Australia hold out from allowing the implementation of the ECG feature. it feels like Apple has given up its pursuit for rolling the ECG feature out further. 

    From what I've read it seems like Apple hasn't even applied to have the feature rolled out in Australia:

    “TGA has not received any applications for products manufactured and/or supplied by Apple, nor is there any Apple device included on the ARTG.”

    https://www.gizmodo.com.au/2020/06/apple-watch-hearting-monitoring-australia-ecg/


  • Reply 18 of 25
    macmarcusmacmarcus Posts: 84member
    macmarcus said:
    A lot of comments but not a lot of experience - which is understandable because small population has problems. They make wearable ECG's "patches" such as the iRhythm Zio that can be worn for continuous monitoring for up to 14 days usually. Every heart beat is recorded (not just sampled like with Apple Watch or ECG done manually like an Apple Watch ECG) and there is a button to press if you experience any symptom so those can have a more thorough review. They just stick in on the left upper chest area. Fairly unobtrusive. Again, this continuously monitors - while resting, exercising, sleeping, etc. Apple Watch has a role to play for sure, but it isn't continuous and seems to cause more concern than actually catching anything. AFib is something that increases certain health risks but mostly isn't the boggy man waiting to kill you. Glad this doctor had the knowledge to figure it out "early" ... surprised he hadn't had a stress test at his age already?
    You describe a rythm Holter, a multi channel portable ECG device. The point is, when you feel odd, the Holter is not available (unless you make one ready at home and pay a fortune for its analysis software). You go to the hospital and the symptom may have gone away already when they attach one to your chest. Apple Watch is always present and you have always chance to record the symptom as soon as it happens. The concern issue is just a stress management thing. If you have to be concerned you don't need Apple Watch, you can use any thing or event for that.
    No, I am NOT describing a Holter - those things are HUGE with wires. The iRhythm Zio is tiny (a "patch" that is 100% self contained with sensors, battery etc.) and inexpensive and monitors EVERY heartbeat....ECG....for days. Very effective. You clearly do not know what you are talking about so why even comment? Apple Watch does not continuously monitor heartbeats (it samples) and the ECG function you have to manually do. The Apple Watch AFIb detection is from sampling and comparing samples to known AFib patient patterns. I was a full participant in the Sanford AFib heart study ... which by the way had nothing to do with Apple Watch ECG feature. Back to the article and the doctor, I am surprised he was clueless about having ADVANCED coronary artery disease AND a serious heart valve problem. A simple 2 minute heart CT with calcification score (test under $100) would have reveled the issue. At 66 years old and being male, he should have had that test especially if he had higher cholesterol levels, smoked, overweight, or any symptoms. Basically his exercise was a mini stress test which revealed the issue to follow up with regardless of his analysis of his ECG. If you experience shortness of breath, dizziness, or irregular beats while excising, at full lead ECG and stress test would be in order for your next physical with you PCP. https://www.irhythmtech.com/professionals/why-zio
    edited July 2020
  • Reply 19 of 25
    macplusplusmacplusplus Posts: 2,114member
    macmarcus said:
    macmarcus said:
    A lot of comments but not a lot of experience - which is understandable because small population has problems. They make wearable ECG's "patches" such as the iRhythm Zio that can be worn for continuous monitoring for up to 14 days usually. Every heart beat is recorded (not just sampled like with Apple Watch or ECG done manually like an Apple Watch ECG) and there is a button to press if you experience any symptom so those can have a more thorough review. They just stick in on the left upper chest area. Fairly unobtrusive. Again, this continuously monitors - while resting, exercising, sleeping, etc. Apple Watch has a role to play for sure, but it isn't continuous and seems to cause more concern than actually catching anything. AFib is something that increases certain health risks but mostly isn't the boggy man waiting to kill you. Glad this doctor had the knowledge to figure it out "early" ... surprised he hadn't had a stress test at his age already?
    You describe a rythm Holter, a multi channel portable ECG device. The point is, when you feel odd, the Holter is not available (unless you make one ready at home and pay a fortune for its analysis software). You go to the hospital and the symptom may have gone away already when they attach one to your chest. Apple Watch is always present and you have always chance to record the symptom as soon as it happens. The concern issue is just a stress management thing. If you have to be concerned you don't need Apple Watch, you can use any thing or event for that.
    No, I am NOT describing a Holter - those things are HUGE with wires. The iRhythm Zio is tiny (a "patch" that is 100% self contained with sensors, battery etc.) and inexpensive and monitors EVERY heartbeat....ECG....for days. Very effective. You clearly do not know what you are talking about so why even comment? Apple Watch does not continuously monitor heartbeats (it samples) and the ECG function you have to manually do. The Apple Watch AFIb detection is from sampling and comparing samples to known AFib patient patterns. I was a full participant in the Sanford AFib heart study ... which by the way had nothing to do with Apple Watch ECG feature. Back to the article and the doctor, I am surprised he was clueless about having ADVANCED coronary artery disease AND a serious heart valve problem. A simple 2 minute heart CT with calcification score (test under $100) would have reveled the issue. At 66 years old and being male, he should have had that test especially if he had higher cholesterol levels, smoked, overweight, or any symptoms. Basically his exercise was a mini stress test which revealed the issue to follow up with regardless of his analysis of his ECG. If you experience shortness of breath, dizziness, or irregular beats while excising, at full lead ECG and stress test would be in order for your next physical with you PCP. https://www.irhythmtech.com/professionals/why-zio
    You gave iRhytm Zio as an example only and ("such as") and the signal to noise ratio in your vague description does not reveal enough information to differentiate a more general and more known Holter device from your Zio. So it is very natural and understandable people don't understand what you're talking about. Also Zio does not exist in my country so enjoy your pedantism I am not offended. I will simply point out to the facts you have hidden when commenting: you hid first the fact that it is a prescription device and yet you still compared the publicly and more broadly available Apple Watch ECG to that prescription device. You also hid the fact that it is single-channel just like Apple Watch ECG. If one of your physicians would prescribe to me that device I would reject it and I would demand a regular multichannel Holter device since I also wear an Apple Watch that I can trigger whenever I feel odd.
    edited July 2020 lolliversvanstrom
  • Reply 20 of 25
    I’m confused.  Article said student was diagnosed with Supraventricular tachycardia and after 8 hours of surgery he’s was recovering well.  I was diagnosed with supraventricular tachycardia and my doctor didn’t have any recommendations. Like no big deal. 
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