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  • Writer's pictureLeigh Gerstenberger

Watch Out

As we’ve aged, my wife and I usually don’t go overboard with gifts for one another at Christmas.  With six grandchildren now, all under the age of 10, Christmas is more about them, and our joy comes from watching them as new traditions are established and they open their gifts.

However, this year was a bit different.  Last fall, while having dinner with a friend, he shared that his wife had an “Afib episode” during the week which required a trip to the emergency room.  

Afib stands for atrial fibrillation (AF), which is a type of arrhythmia, or abnormal heartbeat. Afib is caused by extremely fast and irregular beats from the upper chambers of the heart (usually more than 400 beats per minute). 

When I asked him how she knew she was having a problem, he said that her smart watch told her!  Apparently one evening while she was preparing dinner, her watch started beeping and told her that her heart rate was irregular.  She felt fine, so she and her husband finished dinner.  However, as they were doing the dishes her watch started beeping again so they decided to go to the local emergency room where it was determined that she, in fact, was experiencing Afib.

Fortunately, since they got to the ER so quickly, her condition was able to be treated with medication and resolved quickly.  She was discharged within a few hours with instructions to follow up with a cardiologist.

Shortly after the holidays I was speaking with another friend, a young man in his forties who has been dealing with several heart related issues over the past year.  While he too is on the mend, I shared the story about my friend’s smart watch alerting her to the fact that she was having an Afib episode.  I told him that my wife and I had gifted each other with smart watches for Christmas after which he shared the following story.

After his heart scare, it was determined that he had a hereditary issue with his heart that required surgery, which was successful.  Because his condition was deemed to be congenital, his parents and siblings were all encouraged to get evaluated to make sure that they didn’t have similar issues with their hearts.

One night, not long ago, his mother was sleeping with her smart watch on her wrist.  In the middle of the night, her watch started buzzing and beeping, which woke her up to her watch informing her that her heart rate was dangerously low and that she should immediately seek medical attention.  She did, averting a potential medical crisis. 

While I’m sure as smart technologies evolve there will be even more stories where technology saved lives and averted a medical crisis.  In the meantime, consider investing in a smart watch…you might be glad you did.  And if you do, I strongly recommend that you charge it during the day and wear it at night!

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