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Apple Watch and Heart Rate Monitoring

A year ago, I had a cardiac event — not a heart attack. Several stories have been written about how people have worn an Apple Watch and had their lives saved. While I did not experience atrial fibrillation the ability to monitor my overall heart rate, I credit to getting proper treatment.

I have two little dogs that I walk every night. The distance varies every night, sometimes it’s a mile, often it’s more — depends on how tired their short legs are. I have been walking them every night for years for their benefit and my health. I use my Apple watch to track my steps and generally also pay attention to my walking heart rate and then the recovery time after.

During our usual routine walk, I noticed a little acid reflux, and when I got back in the house, I had 2 Tums, and 10 minutes later, I felt fine. The following day the walk was uneventful. On Saturday, we were doing our walk, and I had that same discomfort. It felt like acid reflux very high up in my throat. I followed the same process as a few days prior and waited my ten minutes. I also noticed my heart rate had returned to normal as it always does. But something did not feel right. My heart rate actually increased well above what I was used to after the walks.

A quick check of the internet to review my symptoms and everything either did not apply, or I could explain way. 1

Jaw Pain — No Back Pain — No Chest pain around the heart — No Sweating — Yes but I had just walked 2 miles in the thick fog Arm pain — Yes but slight and I had been playing guitar for 6 hours that day so again explainable My wife was out, so I called and mentioned how I was feeling, and I was going to go to the ER to get checked out. She agreed and commented that it was very atypical of me so I should follow my gut.

I drove myself to the Emergency room2 Before I walked into the ER, I rechecked my pulse, and it was back to normal. I contemplated turning around but decided to go in. I was brought into an exam room, and some quick tests showed I did not have a heart attack. I would need a more extensive analysis at another hospital to rule out anything else. During the procedure, they inserted a catheter in my right arm and directed it to my heart. The doctor injected some dye, and it could not have been any clearer. It might as well have been Godzilla walking down 5th avenue. On closer inspection, they were able to determine it was a blood clot in my right coronary artery that was causing a 98% blockage3. They were able to quickly dissolve the blood clot and insert a stent at the same time to make sure the artery remained open. From the time I was wheeled into the time the procedure was over was about 21 minutes.

It has been a year now, and I feel great! Except for those two instances of heartburn,” I was feeling fine before. I have done a few things to improve my health, and there is always more to do. I am lucky, and I think tracking my overall health through the Apple Watch made me more aware and paid more attention to my body.


  1. NOTE: Your diagnosis from the internet will always be death — or cancer, better to skip this step.↩︎

  2. Driving myself to the ER instead of calling 911 was not a smart idea. Thinking you are Iron Man is also not recommended.↩︎

  3. I was awake during the procedure (it was painless), and I was able to see the blockage on the screen as clear as day.↩︎

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