The Apple Watch is a life saver for many, including myself

This week’s ThinkTank piece is a bit personal. It is about the role the Apple Watch has played in my health. In my case, it has become a critical monitor that helps me track my blood sugars in real time and gives me an essential tool in my quest to control my diabetes.

I use the Dexcom G 6 Continuous Blood Glucose Monitor that has a sensor that I wear that records my blood sugar readings all day long. It sends those readings via Bluetooth to the Dexcom iPhone app and then sends that reading to my Apple Watch. For 20+ years, I have had to prick my fingers up to four times a day to get blood sugar readings in order to determine my blood sugars and the amount of insulin I take. Now, I just look at my Apple watch to see what my blood sugar reading is on one of its screen complications. That means that I no longer prick my finger and now see my blood sugar readings on the Apple Watch on demand. That alone makes the Apple Watch one of the most important pieces of technology I own.

But an incident that happened recently has made the Apple Watch with its ECG monitoring and constant recording of my heartbeat also very valuable. About a month ago, I had an incident where I could feel my heart beat very fast. My normal heart rate is about 52. But in an instant, it jumped to 140 while sitting still. I could feel the heart beating faster, but Apple Watch showed me the graph of what was going on. For a period of about an hour, my heart rate stayed between 120-140 and charted the spikes in real time.

At the 140 beats per minute peak, I took an ECG reading on the Apple Watch and got an AFIB warning. While it did not confirm AFIB, it did suggest I immediately talk to my doctor and show him this reading. After an hour, the heart rate went back to 52 and has stayed there ever since.

But in looking at the heartbeat graphs, I discovered something that I had not seen before. Even though my average heart rate stays around 50-55, I could see spikes continuously where the heart rate jumped from 52 to about 65-75 often during any minute, and it was monitoring my heartbeat. This caused me real concern as I was not aware that I even had an irregular heartbeat.

I should also note that I had a triple bypass in 2012, so I am a very conscience in any changes in my heart health. Given my past heart health history and these new heart rate events, I made an appointment with my cardiologist to get some tests done to see what was going on.

BTW, after the heart rate jumped up considerably, it has not happened again. I also have taken an ECG reading on the Apple Watch bi-weekly, and it comes back normal, so my concern about AFIB had done down, but I still felt that I needed to be checked out by my cardiologist.

What is important for me and many others is that the Apple Watch has the ability to not only track health activities, but can also monitor health issues like heart health and diabetes. It gives users information about those conditions, and if there is something outside of a normal range and needs to be checked, it prompts a person to see their doctor.

Apple knew what they were doing when the created the Apple Watch and clearly decided to focus on health as a primary reason for it to exist. Yes, it can do much more, but its ability to help keep one healthy as well as alert you to health abnormalities, can’t be underestimated.

I did see my Dr and had multiple tests. The good news is that I do not have AFIB. However, the tests showed that I had palpitations, irregular heartbeat, and minor Tachycardia, which is related to the electric signals of the upper chamber of the heart. At the moment, these issues are all very mild and did not need anything major such as pacemakers, electric shock to get my heart rhythms in sync, or some other treatments that could have been invasive.

Instead, I have to watch my diet closely and increase my exercise, or these conditions could become worse over time if I don’t take care of my heart health. Because I have not had any additional high heart rates, my inclination was to pass it off as an anomaly. But the consistent monitoring of my heart beats by the app in the Apple watch pushed me to the Doctor to get it checked out.

Often we hear stories of how the Apple Watch or even some other fitness trackers have helped save lives. While we know these were shared by real people, they are mostly faceless individuals who we are glad for, but we do not have any personal connection to them.
If you have read my columns here and/or followed me as many of you have throughout my 38 careers in the industry, I hope that this story resonates with you. A product like an Apple Watch for me has become a lifesaver in its own right. That is why I am glad Apple created this important health monitoring technology that happens to be in a watch form that has great design and many health-related functions.

Published by

Tim Bajarin

Tim Bajarin is the President of Creative Strategies, Inc. He is recognized as one of the leading industry consultants, analysts and futurists covering the field of personal computers and consumer technology. Mr. Bajarin has been with Creative Strategies since 1981 and has served as a consultant to most of the leading hardware and software vendors in the industry including IBM, Apple, Xerox, Compaq, Dell, AT&T, Microsoft, Polaroid, Lotus, Epson, Toshiba and numerous others.

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