Apple smartwatch app saves man from Pulmonary Embolism

The Apple Watch helped saved a Brooklyn man life after the an app notified him that his heart rate was continuously above his usual readings.

James Green, who describes himself as a serial data tracker, bought the device two years earlier, mainly for notifications and to track cycling. He had no idea it would one day help save his life.

It turns the 28 year old man didn’t simply have an elevated heart rate. The spike in his measurements was a result of pulmonary embolism, or in English – a blood clot in his lungs. His doctor said the condition could have been fatal if Green had waited longer before seeking medical attention.

Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets for 2017

Green was using the HeartWatch app which notifies users when their resting heart rate rises above or dips below the normal range. In his case, the value was well above his usual resting heart rate of 54 beats per minute. This, coupled with other symptoms was enough to prompt Green to seek medical assistance.

Last month’s watchOS 4 brought a number of heart rate upgrades to Apple’s device. Users are now able to see their current heart rate just by raising their wrist. There is the addition of a “recovering heart rate” which shows how fast your heart rate drops after a workout, and the watch now shows your resting heart rate. Apple has also teamed up with a group of clinicians at Stanford and telemedicine vendor American Well to detect whether its smartwatch can be used to detect common heart conditions.

More importantly for this article, the Apple watch can now be set up to flag abnormal spikes even when wearers aren’t working out. Simply launch the Watch app on your iPhone, tap on the My Watch tab; tap on Heart Rate; and choose the heart rate at which you wish to be notified.

The watch will only use this settings to alert you if you haven’t been active or working out for at least 10 minutes. The device will then continue monitoring to see if the rate stays elevated. Best of all, this feature works on all three generations of the Apple Watch, so no need to upgrade to get the elevated heart rate alerts.

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