San Diego

Doctor's Apple Watch Helps Detect Friend's Off-Beat Heart, Possibly Saves His Life

A San Diego ophthalmologist said his Apple Watch may have saved his friend’s life.

“We’re at this really popular Asian noodle shop on Convoy [in San Diego],” said Sharp Rees-Stealy ophthalmologist Tommy Korn. “As he’s eating, he’s just grabbing his heart.”

“I said, ‘Let me feel your pulse.’ I’m an ophthalmologist. I’m an eye doctor. I’m not an expert on the heart but I’m feeling it and it doesn’t feel like a normal pulse at all,” Dr. Korn remembers from the lunch a few weeks ago.

That’s when Korn remembered his Apple Watch has an ECG app that can detect abnormal heartbeats. He said he put his watch on his friend.

“Lo and behold it comes up as atrial fibrillation. You gotta be kidding me!” he thought.

Atrial fibrillation is an abnormal heart rhythm that could suggest someone has an increased risk of heart failure. Dr. Korn said the reading on the watch encouraged his friend to go to the hospital.

“He gets checked out. It’s atrial fibrillation,” said an astounded Dr. Korn. “Does it ultimately save his life? Who knows?”

Dr. Korn said his friend was visiting from overseas and that flying with atrial fibrillation can be very dangerous.

“Who would have thought that in 2019 you’d have something on your wrist that can actually watch over you?” he said.

Dr. Korn said the app is also just scratching the surface for do-it-yourself technology.

“The football game hasn’t even started. We’re just in the, not even preseason,” he said.

Dr. Korn said his friend spoke to his own doctor and received a prescription before flying home. The friend is now getting treatments for his condition, which was first found on an Apple Watch.

“The funny thing is the next thing he wanted to do was go to the Apple Store before he flew back to buy an Apple Watch,” Dr. Korn said.

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