The Apple Watch’s ECG feature can officially only indicate atrial fibrillation, but an anesthesiologist working at a California hospital says that it picked up on a critical heart disease so serious that he requires a bypass operation.

Dr. Donald W Milne from Antelope Valley Hospital shared the story with us and has also written to Tim Cook …

I have the first generation of the Apple Watch to be able to do heart monitoring. I know that the primary intended use is to monitor for atrial fibrillation. As a 66 year old anesthesiologist I use my watch for many occasions.

However a number of months ago  I was working out on an elliptical machine,  And I experienced more shortness of breath than usual for a workout.  I used the ECG function to take an ECG at that time.

I observed ST segment depression on the tracing. That resolved and returned to normal with rest. This was again documented by the tracings.

I had no history of any heart disease prior to this incident.

An appointment with my primary care physician obtained a resting ECG in her office that was normal. However upon showing the tracing with the ischemia she agreed and referred me to a cardiologist at John Muir Concord hospital .

He agreed as well with the assessment and upon having an angiogram yesterday the finding of critical diffuse coronary artery disease was found and I am now scheduled for a 5 vessel bypass and aortic valve replacement on July 13 2020.

Milne said that detecting the critical heart disease early enough to treat it saved his life.

A long story short is that without the Apple Watch tracing I would never have known I had disease in time to be able to intervene before having a potentially fatal heart attack.

The Apple Watch has clearly saved my life.

It did rely on Milne being qualified to interpret the ECG reading to diagnose his health problem, but it was still impressive that a single-lead ECG provided enough data to allow him to do so.

It’s of course not the first time we’ve read a report of the Apple Watch saving someone’s life, but it’s particularly compelling to hear a first-hand report from a board-certified doctor.

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Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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