An Apple smartwatch saved a man’s life when it alerted him that his heart was beating extremely slowly, and had even stopped 138 times in 48 hours.
This story of cardio-coincidence began in April when 54-year-old David Last got a new Apple watch from his wife Sarah for his birthday.
Straight away, the watch readings showed David had a resting heart rate as low as 30bpm. Resting heart rates for an adult male are usually between 60-100bpm, dropping down into the 50s for those with extraordinary fitness.
Sarah urged David to visit a doctor, but the man just assumed the watch was faulty.
Eventually the dad-of-four saw a cardiologist at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, where he was booked for an MRI scan in May. Two months later the results were in, and he was referred back for an ECG scan.
One day, David noticed he had five missed calls from the hospital asking him to come back as a matter of urgency.
It turned out he was walking around with a third degree heart block and was at risk of sudden cardiac death.
David underwent life-saving surgery to fit a pacemaker, a device which keeps his heart beating in rhythm, and says he’s feeling “relieved” and has “a lot more energy.”
“My wife keeps saying that she saved my life, and she’s not wrong,” said David. “If she hadn’t had bought me my Apple watch for my birthday, I wouldn’t be here.”
“I will always be eternally grateful to her for it. Apart from charging it, it’s always staying on me now.”
“Sudden cardiac death” arises from genetic cardiomyopathies which make up a group of diseases passed genetically on to offspring at a 50/50 chance, and result in faulty genes causing heart failure.
In the UK there are around 12 sudden cardiac deaths per day among those under the age of 35.
“The pre-surgery consultation explained that my case was unusual, and they had extensive meetings about what they were going to do,” David recounted. “They explained that I had something called ‘heart block.’ The junction box in my heart had stopped working and failed to pass on electrical pulses.”
His heart had stopped 138 times in 10-second intervals over a 48-hour period, mostly while he was asleep. This would cause another part of his heart to kickstart the blood flow, before the process would repeat.
His newly-fitted pacemaker will now sense any abnormal rhythms and help both heart ventricles pump blood in sync.
David confirmed that he’s feeling much better and returned to work this week.
Furthermore, the two lovebirds got married in between David’s MRI and ECG scans, and were even able to enjoy a 10-day honeymoon in Italy during the same interval, something the hospital staff could barely believe.
“Sarah really looked after me,” said David. “She keeps saying how proud of herself she is—and she should be, she saved my life.”