Apple Watch Alerts 79-Year-Old Vet to Potentially Fatal Heart Condition

Dr Ray Emerson Credit: Bettie Cross / CBS Austin
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A veterinarian from Waco, Texas says he found out about a previously unknown and potentially fatal heart condition after his Apple Watch alerted him to it.

Dr. Ray Emerson, 79, told local news outlet CBS Austin that he credits his Apple Watch with helping to save his life after it detected atrial fibrillation, or an irregular heartbeat.

“The watch dinged me … I looked down and it said you are in atrial fibrillation,” Emerson said. “It told me I wasn’t feeling as good as I thought I was.”

When Emerson went to his doctor, tests confirmed that he was experiencing atrial fibrillation, or AFib.

“Ray, he says, your watch is right. You are in atrial fibrillation,” Dr. Emerson said.

If left untreated, AFib can increase the risk of stroke, blood clot and heart failure. Stroke is often the first sign of AFib because most people don’t realize something is wrong with them, Dr. Jazon Zagrodzky told CBS Austin.

“I would say probably at least once or twice a week someone comes to me solely because their watch said, hey, you’ve got a serious problem,” said Dr. Zagrodzky, a cardiac electrophysiologist at St. David’s Medical Center in Austin.

The veterinarian later underwent surgery to correct the issue. But he says he may not have detected the problem without his Apple Watch.

Stories about Apple’s flagship wearable detecting previously unknown conditions aren’t new. There have been plenty of reports of users crediting the Apple Watch with saving their lives.

And while the Apple Watch isn’t technically a medical device, there may now be medical research backing up the wearable’s life-saving properties.

Earlier this month, researchers at Stanford University officially published the results of the Apple Heart Study in the New England Journal of Medicine. Their conclusion? The Apple Watch can, in fact, accurately detect atrial fibrillation.

And “the Apple Watch doesn’t have to be perfect,” Dr. Zagrodzky said. “It only needs to detect one of those to make the diagnosis.”

Dr. Emerson initially received the Apple Watch as a gift, saying that he was “too cheap” to buy it himself. Now, he’s sold on the technology — which he described as “priceless.”

“Oh yeah,” Dr. Emerson said of his watch, laughing. “This is my buddy.”

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