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Apple Watch credited in helping save heart attack victim
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MacNN Staff
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Mar 15, 2016, 12:37 PM
For at least the second time, the Apple Watch is being credited with helping someone avoid sudden death because of heart problems. Following a report last September where a student athlete noted a very-high heart rate after football practice that saved him from what would have been a fatal attack of rhabdomyolysis, a Canadian builder has also been credited with saving his own life after noting a sky-high heart rate followed an undetected heart attack. The Alberta man, a watch collector, now says his other watches are put away, and the Apple Watch is his daily companion.

Dennis Anselmo, 62, was working building a fence near Edmonton as normal when he suddenly felt terrible, like he was coming down with "a really bad flu" and fever. While taking a short break, he checked his heart rate on his new Apple Watch, and noted that the normal rate -- which was around 50bpm, unusually low for most people but typical for him -- had shot up to 210 beats per minute, similar to what happened to the young athlete in Maine. Anselmo told his compatriots that they needed to summon paramedics, who took him to the hospital, and doctors immediately operated to clear blockages.

Dennis Alermo and his Apple Watch
Dennis Alermo and his Apple Watch

"They told me that if I had gone home and gone to bed -- as many people do -- I would likely have had another, more serious bout in the middle of the night. Those second attacks are the ones that kill. That is a common problem." Anselmo, a watch collector, had been told by his wife not to get the Apple Watch, since he already had 35 other pieces. "She complained, but after the heart attack she said 'that watch has paid for itself'." He added that his other watches now never get worn.

Patients with known heart conditions can self-monitor
Patients with known heart conditions can self-monitor

Another man, a 64-year-old from Virginia, developed an abnormally low heart beat during a visit with his son in San Diego last August. This was the result of "sick sinus syndrome," and while he was able to get himself to the hospital, he avoided having to be monitored for a week to confirm the diagnosis because he was able to provide doctors with two weeks of existing heart rate data from his recent Apple Watch, allowing him to considerably shorten his hospital stay, and prioritize the operation that allowed him to recover.
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Mar 15, 2016, 03:44 PM
When they finally have an app that can monitor your vitals and alert you to anomaly's, that will be a breakthrough lifesaver. Right now, as far as I know, you first have to feel like something is off in your body, then check with some lame app on your iPhone or Apple Watch. That is too little, too late.
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Mar 15, 2016, 04:43 PM
Probably because devices that do some of those things require FDA approval (in order to ensure that they're reliable and accurate within a certain tolerance) and end up being classified as a "medical device" (which comes with regulations).

The Apple Watch is not considered a "medical device" at the moment.
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Mar 16, 2016, 04:15 PM
It's interesting to me that, while I really don't have much interest in an Apple Watch or other wearables, and don't see most of the potential advantages of them as anything I personally want, a system that constantly monitored vitals and alerted me to an anomaly would probably get me to buy one and wear it regularly.

Not specific to the Apple Watch, but a small, affordable device that detected and alerted to dangerous medical conditions that might otherwise go unnoticed, like heart problems, could genuinely change the way people manage their health, and avert quite a few unexpected deaths.
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