Ask the Experts Blog

Search Blog Topics
We post regular content that focuses on important health topics and issues that affect you and your family with tips and advice from health experts right here at Lakeland. We want to hear from you! Do you have a health topic you'd like to see featured? 

Can a Smartwatch Save Your Life?

by Jessica Pasek | Jan 9, 2020

smartchwatch WEBSmartwatches can be used for a variety of things such as measuring steps and calories burned, but who knew they could also save your life? The Heart Rate app on the Apple Watch allows users to enable notifications to alert them of high or low heart rates and irregular heart rhythms.

By regularly tracking your heart beat you can more easily identify changes which could be caused by a more serious condition such as atrial fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation, or "a-fib," is a common form of irregular heartbeat that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other heart problems. It affects up to six million Americans, but many people don't even know that they have it.

The Heart Rate app uses the device's light-sensor technology to measure blood flow and can also detect slight changes that might indicate an irregular heartbeat. If the sensor detects five out of six repeat episodes of an irregular pulse within a 48-hour period, the app sends wearers an "irregular pulse" notification.

“For people at high risk of heart disease, or a known cardiac condition, smart technology can be a game changer,” said cardiologist, Dennis Disch, MD. “If you record AFib on your watch and bring the reading to your doctor, it may not tell them how often you’re experiencing it, but it does confirm that you’re having symptoms which can be an important step in developing a treatment plan.”

It’s important to recognize that no medical test is perfect and there are always false positives or negatives. While the Apple watch can identify changes in heartbeat, in most cases a medical provider would still require extended monitoring to provide an accurate diagnosis. Apple Watch cannot detect heart attacks. If you experience chest pain, pressure, or tightness call 9-1-1 immediately. 

Bonus Apple Watch Feature

Hard fall warning―if you experience a significant hard fall an alarm sounds and an alert is displayed. You can dismiss the alert but if you do nothing within 60 seconds your watch will automatically call emergency services and notify your emergency contact. To enable this service, tap the My Watch tab, tap emergency SOS, and toggle fall detection to turn it on.

Additional health apps

There are also a number of health apps that connect with the Apple Watch. Some of these include:

  • Dexacom G6 – If you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you can check and track your glucose levels by placing a glucose monitor onto your body.
  • Yazio – Track activity, log meals, and calculate your calories.
  • Meditopia – Meditation to help reduce stress and improve sleep.

To learn more about how a smartwatch can save your life, watch the video below:

Continue Watching

Check-Up: The Serious Side of Acid Reflux (John Gosling, MD)

Spectrum Health Lakeland internist, John Gosling, MD, talks about the warning signs and symptoms of severe acid reflux and consequences if untreated.

Cooking for Your Heart (David Chalupa, PA and Courtney Dixon, RD)

Spectrum Health Lakeland clinicians David Chalupa, PA, and registered dietitian, Courtney Dixon, cook up a heart-healthy meal while talking about risk factors for heart disease.

Check-Up: Common Heart Valve Problems (Dave Chalupa, PA)

Spectrum Health Lakeland physician assistant, David Chalupa describes different heart valve conditions and what it means to have a leaky valve.

Check-Up: What Does Cardiac Rehab Involve? (Brett Hoseth, PA)

Spectrum Health Lakeland physician assistant, Brett Hoseth, provides a quick explanation about who may need cardiac rehabilitation and how long it lasts.

Check-Up: What is an Angiogram? (Jerome Kuhnlein, MD)

Spectrum Health Lakeland cardiologist, Jerome Kuhnlein, MD, explains how an angiogram can help determine if an angioplasty is needed to improve blood flow through the heart.

Check-Up: Powered by a Pacemaker (Jerome Kuhnlein, MD)

Spectrum Health Lakeland cardiologist, Jerome Kuhnlein, MD, describes how a pacemaker gets implanted under the collarbone to help regulate heart rhythm issues.

Check-Up: Blood Thinners (Christopher Chiu, MD)

Spectrum Health Lakeland cardiologist, Christopher Chiu, MD, explains why a person would need to be prescribed a blood thinner and the importance of measuring the blood’s thickness to prevent clots.

Check-Up: What is a Widow Maker? (Christopher Chiu, MD)

Spectrum Health Lakeland cardiologist, Christopher Chiu, MD, explains what a widow maker heart attack is and why it’s serious.

Check-Up: Why Salt is Bad for Heart Failure (Christopher Chiu, MD)

Spectrum Health Lakeland cardiologist, Christopher Chiu, explains why too much salt can have bad side-effects for patients with congestive heart failure.

Check-Up: What You Should Know About Vaping (Albert Naveed, MD)

Albert Naveed, MD, pulmonologist at Lakeland Pulmonology explains the dangers of vaping and e-cigarettes.

© Spectrum Health Lakeland 2020