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A Feel-Good Apple Story With A Happy Ending

This is a very personal story for me that fortunately ended well.  

My History

I was born with severe congenital heart defects that, in the middle of 2021, resulted in more than 14 hours of open heart surgery. 

The operation affected something called the “bundle branch.”  The bundle branches are part of the heart’s electrical conduction system, responsible for transmitting electrical impulses that control the heart’s pumping action.  They are essential in ensuring the coordinated contraction of the heart muscle.

Unfortunately, after the operation, there was an electrical current blockage in the bundle branch which caused my heart to randomly stop for extended periods, which is often fatal. 

After almost dying in my sleep, I was rushed to the hospital to get a pacemaker installed.  

And this is where things get interesting (not in a good way).  

Unfortunately, the electrophysiologist (a type of cardiologist) who installed the pacemaker made some mistakes and misprogrammed my device.  

While the pacemaker prevented my heart from stopping, it also made my heart beat 125 beats per minute a few times a day for no reason.  This happened most often when I was asleep.  Once or twice a night, I would wake up in a cold sweat with my heart beating fast for no reason.    

Also, the pacemaker should have recorded my rapid heartbeat events so the cardiologist could see what was happening.  But, because of the programming error, the pacemaker thought my heart was beating at 60 beats per minute and did not record the rapid heartbeat problem.  

What Does This Have To Do With My Apple Phone?  

My I-watch collected heartbeat information and recorded it on my I-phone.  The difference between the Apple-recorded information and the information recorded by my pacemaker was key to realizing something was wrong with the pacemaker.  

Below is a screenshot of the Apple website advertising this feature. 

31009516_1679248107mwDApple_ A Feel-Good Apple Story With A Happy Ending

My I-watch is impressive.  In addition to warning me of rapid heart rate, I also can self-administer EKGs (simple ones) and provide that information to my cardiologist.  

It is easy to take your own EKG with an Apple device.  You simply touch your watch with two fingers (in the right spot or 30 seconds), and the EKG is recorded.  

Below are two recent EKGs taken by my watch.  The first one is “normal,” and the second shows a rapid heart rate while I was asleep (I took the EKG right after waking up).  

31009518_1679250107YXuEKG_normal A Feel-Good Apple Story With A Happy Ending
31009519_1679250136qZKEKG_rapid A Feel-Good Apple Story With A Happy Ending

My pacemaker had a different EKG record than my Apple devices, which meant one of the devices was wrong.  And, since I experienced physical symptoms, it was easy to figure out which one had the wrong data.  

So, it is safe to say my Apple devices saved my life by providing information confirming my pacemaker was not operating correctly. 

It was only a matter of time before the pacemaker programming error killed me, and the information from my Apple devices saved me before something terrible happened.  

My Recommendation

Everyone should have a smartphone and a wearable device that checks their pulse and blood oxygen levels and can take an EKG. 

Other devices and brands (other than Apple) have quality products with these capabilities. 

I like Apple devices, but that’s fine if you prefer other brands.  All of the major manufacturers have devices with similar capabilities.  

So, my advice…make sure your watch and phone do what mine does.   It could be a lifesaver.  

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