Heart Rate

The Apple Watch and Saving Lives

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The Apple Watch has from the very beginning been typically viewed as a tech gadget. But it actually has a much more important function... health monitoring. There are two recent news stories that I wanted to share with all of you concerning the use of the Apple Watch for medical reasons.

I'll start with the recent news announcement from Apple and Stanford. Apple has a page that goes into all the details about the study and the new Apple Watch app so I highly recommend you take a look. Apple and Stanford are doing this study to learn more about irregular heartbeats (also known as an arrhythmia). The Apple Watch is the perfect device to collect data on a large number of people and monitor your heartbeat constantly because it is already doing that anyway when you wear your watch. I don’t have any known heart problems but I downloaded the app and joined the study. The more information doctors have about this the better equipped they are to help people who need it. So if you have an Apple Watch considering doing your part. Who knows, it could just save your own life and will definitely help to save others.

Joining the study is as simple as downloading an app. The study is open to any U.S. resident who is 22 years or older, uses an iPhone 5s or later with iOS 11 and an Apple Watch Series 1 or later with watchOS 4, and meets other study eligibility criteria.

Speaking of saving lives... The second item I wanted to share has a story about how the Apple Watch saved someone's life. This isn't some major media headline story like many of you have heard. This story is comes from one of the many podcasts I regularly listen to. The podcast is called "Download." Episode 30 of the Download podcast opens with a discussion with one of the guests, James T. Green, who’s Apple Watch saved his life. After getting an alert from his Apple Watch that his heart rate was too high he called his doctor. Because he had so much heart rate history data on his watch he was able to show that this was a real problem and not just a fluke reading. After a CT scan showed he had blood clots in his lungs we was rushed to the hospital for immediate treatment. If his high heart rate (one of the few symptoms of this condition) was not noticed he very likely would have died as these clots tends to move into the brain or heart where they can be fatal. I highly recommend taking a few minutes to listen to Episode 30 of Download or check out the article in The Telegraph.

Photo Credit: @_jamestgreen on Twitter

Photo Credit: @_jamestgreen on Twitter

Apple Watch Heart Rate Glitch

I'm lucky to get my heart rate this low while I am sleeping, much less lifting weights! 

I'm lucky to get my heart rate this low while I am sleeping, much less lifting weights! 

One of the features I was most excited about when I first starting using the Apple Watch was fitness tracking. But right off the bat I noticed something strange. From time to time when I would be using the "Other" workout on the Apple Watch, my displayed heart rate would be about half of what I would expect it to be. In fact, I would say it was exactly half of what my heart rate actually was because a few minutes later the watch would correct the heart rate value to exactly twice what used to be displayed. That was 18-months ago when I first started using the Apple Watch. Apple has since released numerous point release updates to watchOS (10 to be exact), but this heart rate glitch is still there. My biggest use of the "general" workout is when I am lifting weights and since I do this 2-3 times a week it gets a lot of use.

I guess I should not be surprised. After all, this is the same company that took how long to come out with cut and past for iOS. Is it a big deal? No, but it is pretty annoying. Especially when it seems to be a simple scaling issue where a simple safety net could be coded in to make sure that the scaling didn't alter the displayed heart rate by more than a certain percentage over a specified time. If your heart rate drops or increases by more than a certain percentage during a workout (say a 2X increase over a few seconds) then you are probably either dead or the heart rate is wrong.

So after 18-months I am finally doing something about it. No, I'm not chucking my Apple Watch in the pond. I am sending Apple some feedback. The real reason I am writing this post is let people know just how easy it is to send Apple feedback about the Apple Watch. Apple has a dedicated website and it only takes a few seconds fill out the mobile friendly form and hit send. So don't be like me and stew over something stupid like a heart rate glitch for 18-months. Send Apple some feedback so they at least have the chance to do something about it.

Apple also has separate dedicated feedback sites for:

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