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Atlanta Physician: New Apple Watch Could Save Lives


September 16, 2018

ATLANTA, GA. – September 13, 2018 (cnn.com) In an article online at cnn.com, an Atlanta neurorehabilitation physician discusses the new Apple watch and why it could save people’s lives.*

Dr. Ford Vox is a neurorehabilitation physician at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Georgia, and is a medical journalist who contributes opinion pieces to CNN. Vox says the Apple Watch Series 4 has an electrocardiogram app that can help wearers detect irregular heart rhythms in time to seek potentially life-saving treatment. A similar app has already been on the market and requires sensors to be hooked up to a watch or iPhone. This app received major attention when a cardiologist used it to diagnose atrial fibrillation in a woman on an airline flight. 

Atrial fibrillation affects 2 to 3 percent of people at some point in their lives and can sometimes appear without any symptoms. The condition is characterized by irregular beating of the upper chambers of the heart, which can result in poor blood flow and clotting that can lead to stroke. Apple’s new watch has built-in electrodes that will inform people if their heartbeats are abnormal and need medical attention. 

This technology could be a gamechanger because many people do not know they have a-fib, and not all cases of a-fib can be detected with a single ECG in a physician’s office. However, the watch’s battery life is not stellar — it lasts only 18 hours with light use — so the watch could be sitting on a charger when someone needs it most. Also, alerts from the watch could lead to more people consenting to a-fib treatment (which comes with risks of its own) when they never would have had a stroke. 

All that said, Dr. Vox says the watch’s benefits will likely be worth the drawbacks. For people who want to monitor their heart health but don’t have the $400 to shell out on an Apple watch, Dr. Vox suggests regular blood pressure checks. High blood pressure is 10 to 15 times more common than a-fib, can be just as dangerous, and is easily treatable. 

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