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Couple credits Apple Watch for detecting silent heart condition requiring medical intervention

Dear Tim letters

Apple Watch added atrial fibrillation detection several years ago, and customers have benefited from the feature ever since. The latest example of Apple Watch making a difference comes from a couple out of Summerville, South Carolina.

Post and Courier has the story of Jeff and Ellen Priest, who credit the Apple Watch with discovering his silent heart condition:

Jeff Priest was sitting on the couch when an alert popped up on his Apple Watch, telling him he had a sudden heart condition called atrial fibrillation. For a man with no health problems and no family history, there could only be one conclusion:

“I thought there was something wrong with the watch,” said Priest, 65, retired provost of University of South Carolina Aiken. “I wasn’t feeling bad, I was feeling my normal self.”

But his wife, Ellen, took it more seriously.

Jeff’s experience isn’t unique. Apple Watch has been credited over and over again with being the first signal that something is wrong for AFib patients who report feeling perfectly fine.

“Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is a type of irregular heart rhythm where the upper chambers of the heart beat out of sync with the lower chambers,” Apple explains in documentation for the Apple Watch. “According to the CDC, approximately 2% of people younger than 65 years old and 9% of people 65 and older have AFib. Irregularities in heart rhythm become more common as people get older. Some individuals with AFib don’t experience any symptoms.”

Detecting AFib early can make all the difference in the world for people with the silent heart condition. Without the Apple Watch, however, the outcome could have been very different. When left untreated, AFib can lead to stroke or heart attack.

In Jeff’s case, he was able to seek medical attention and receive proper treatment that makes the heart condition manageable. He was also to monitor the heart condition from his watch without needing to stay home or at the hospital for further evaluation.

“I wasn’t having any symptoms,” he said. The staff kept asking, ” ‘Your chest doesn’t hurt?’ No. ‘You can’t feel your heart racing?’ No.” […]

They let them go home hours later after medications got him stabilized. But when he saw Schneider two days later, he was still in atrial fibrillation, even though he still did not feel bad. She kept him on the medications but made an appointment for him to get his heart shocked back into a normal rhythm. He got permission to go to a golf tournament, and in the middle of it he suddenly felt things return to normal.

“I checked on my watch and I was” out of atrial fibrillation, Jeff said. The shock became unnecessary.

Read the full story at the Post and Courier. For more on how Apple Watch is making an impact in health, see our Apple Health guide.

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