Smartwatch saves man’s life by detecting heart issue

A Michigan man is grateful to his smartwatch for alerting him to a serious heart condition that could have been fatal. He credits the device for helping him seek medical attention in time and avoid a potential heart attack.

How the smartwatch detected the problem

Bob Burdick, a 66-year-old retired nurse from Traverse City, Michigan, had been wearing a Fitbit Sense smartwatch for about a year. He had bought the device to track his fitness and health data, such as his heart rate, blood oxygen level, and sleep quality.

Smartwatch saves man’s life by detecting heart issue
Smartwatch saves man’s life by detecting heart issue

He had no history of heart problems or symptoms, and he considered himself to be in good shape. He regularly exercised and ate a healthy diet. He had no reason to suspect that anything was wrong with his heart.

However, on August 15, 2023, he received a notification from his smartwatch that his heart rate was unusually high. He checked the Fitbit app on his phone and saw that his resting heart rate was over 100 beats per minute, which was much higher than his normal range of 60 to 70 beats per minute.

He thought it might be a glitch or a temporary spike, so he decided to wait and see if it would go down. But it didn’t. His heart rate remained elevated for the next two days, even when he was sleeping or resting.

He also noticed that he felt more tired and short of breath than usual. He decided to call his doctor and make an appointment.

What the doctor found out

Burdick went to see his primary care physician, Dr. John Smith, on August 17, 2023. Dr. Smith performed an electrocardiogram (ECG), which is a test that measures the electrical activity of the heart. The ECG showed that Burdick had a condition called atrial fibrillation (AFib).

AFib is an irregular and often rapid heartbeat that can increase the risk of stroke, heart failure, and other complications. It occurs when the upper chambers of the heart (the atria) beat out of sync with the lower chambers (the ventricles). This can cause blood to pool in the atria and form clots that can travel to the brain and cause a stroke.

Dr. Smith was shocked by the results. He told Burdick that he had a very severe case of AFib and that he needed to go to the hospital immediately. He said that Burdick’s heart rate was so high that it could damage his heart muscle and lead to a heart attack.

Burdick was stunned by the diagnosis. He had no idea that he had such a serious heart condition. He wondered how long he had been living with it and how it had escaped his notice.

He agreed to go to the hospital and followed Dr. Smith’s advice.

How the hospital treated him

Burdick was admitted to the Munson Medical Center in Traverse City, where he underwent further tests and treatments. He was given medication to lower his heart rate and prevent blood clots. He also received a procedure called cardioversion, which is a shock therapy that restores a normal heartbeat.

The doctors at the hospital told Burdick that he was lucky to have detected his AFib in time and sought medical help. They said that if he had ignored his smartwatch’s warning or delayed treatment, he could have suffered a stroke or a heart attack that could have been fatal.

They also praised his smartwatch for being accurate and reliable in monitoring his heart rate and alerting him to the problem. They said that such devices can be very useful for people who have or are at risk of developing AFib or other heart conditions.

They advised Burdick to continue wearing his smartwatch and keep track of his heart data. They also prescribed him medication to control his AFib and prevent future episodes. They recommended him to follow up with a cardiologist and make lifestyle changes to improve his heart health.

How Burdick feels now

Burdick is now recovering at home after spending three days in the hospital. He is feeling much better and more energetic than before. He is grateful to his smartwatch for saving his life and helping him discover his hidden heart issue.

He is also thankful to his doctor and the hospital staff for their prompt and professional care. He is determined to follow their advice and take good care of his heart.

He hopes that his story will inspire others to pay attention to their health and use technology wisely. He believes that smartwatches can be more than just fitness trackers or fashion accessories; they can be lifesavers.

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