Fitness wearables have been popular for some time, primarily for tracking the stats on a given workout, and now they’re diagnosing potentially life-threatening health conditions.
According to ABC News, Ed Dentel (46), of Virginia, had recently downloaded the electrocardiogram on his Apple Watch and it might have just saved his life.
Dentel lives an active lifestyle. He does taekwondo with his family three times a week, bikes and skis frequently and has no history of heart problems. He said he downloaded the app out of curiosity.
"The application on the launch sounded off right away with atrial fibrillation — not something I've ever heard of, but since I'm in pretty decent health and never had a problem before, I didn't give it much thought. I figured something was glitchy, so I set everything down turned in for the night," Dentel told ABC News.
On Friday morning, over breakfast with his daughter, Dentel put his watch back on.
"Right away: AFib. So I shut everything down and turned it back on and tried it again. Same result, same result, same result," he said. He asked his wife to try. Hers came back normal. Twice. "I put it on my left wrist, on top, AFib. I put it on my left wrist, on the bottom, AFib. I switch to my right wrist. Same thing. So, starting to get a little bit alarmed here."
At a nearby urgent care, a doctor confirmed what the Apple Watch had diagnosed. "Yup, you're in AFib. This thing may have just saved your life," the doctor told Dentel.
Atrial fibrillation, commonly called AFib or AF, is a specific kind of irregular heart rhythm. If left untreated, it can weaken heart muscles and increase the risk of stroke.
Doctors are still trying to figure out how the Apple Watch will fit into the overall healthcare picture.
"It is potentially helpful in these small instances," said Michael N. Cho, a cardiologist at Crystal Run Healthcare in Middletown, New York. "The incidence is higher as you get older — if you had Apple Watches on 80-year-olds, you'd have a high incidence of AFib. If you have mostly 20-, 30- or 40-year-olds, you're not going to see that much."