Apple Watch and Atrial fibrillation Alerts - it happened to me

I woke up feeling quite sickly on Saturday morning and then, at about 9am, I started feeling quite awful. I felt my heart pounding and pounding - which was odd.

So I put my watch on, curious to see what my heart beat was.

You can see the results in the screenshot from the health app. My heart beat was as low as 50 one moment and 170 the next.

Thirty minutes later I was in ER and a nurse was shaving my chest so she could fit the sensors for the ecg machine.

I had Atrial fibrilation. The watch has a new feature that detects this condition automatically and warns the wearer. That sounded like magic when I first heard about it, but I now realise that it was the data availability, not the algorithm, that made it possible.

The watch didn’t tell me that, though. I wasn’t wearing it. And, that feature isn’t allowed in New Zealand yet. But it was handy to view my heartbeat and confirm something not good was happening. I probably would have tried to wait it out if I hadn’t seen the numbers.

Not all attacks are as obvious as mine, so best to turn on the feature if you can.

(And if you’re wondering: I’m okay, although I’m still knocked down by the virus that seems to have kicked it off. It also turns out that I have a magnesium deficiency which was the underlying cause, and has probably been causing a bunch of other issues. So, if I fix that with a few tablets, I might feel way way better).


Sending you a heart and hope you feel better soon.


Glad you sought care and are on the mend!

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Thanks for sharing - and glad you were able to share.


The Watch and iPhone are great tools for enabling us to take charge of our own health. Thanks for the anecdote @Clarke_Ching – we’re all grateful you are on the mend.

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I recently made an appointment to get my heart checked since my watch has been alerting me of a high resting heart rate (over 100) since I bought the watch 1.5 years ago. I used to double check with a stethoscope to make sure my watch was accurate and sure enough it matched. I just had to wear a Holter Heart Monitor for a full 24 hours and the results matched my Apple Watch’s results as far as bpm and the range throughout the day.

I am a big fan of the Apple Watch for many reasons, but this is the main one with wide appeal that I use when recommending it to friends/family.

I’m sure Apple would like for it to be a global feature, but it’s really in the hands of the various regulatory agencies. TBH, I’m surprised they’ve gotten as much through the FDA and other agencies in the US as they have.

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I’m curious; does anyone know if Apple has made any official statement that they’re actively seeking to roll this out in other places?

Being in the EU I’m cutoff from Afib detection & ECG which was why I bought the watch on launch day.
Can’t help but feel a it ripped off & fearing that it’ll take several years for it to launch in DK as Apple Pay & SIRI did, among other things

According to a Bloomberg article:

The process of gaining approval from international equivalents to the FDA are underway, according to a person familiar with the matter. No date has been set for a global roll-out, the person said, but they said the feature would be enabled via a software update when certification was granted.

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Good news :slight_smile:

Curious I am, thinking about how technology is changing perspective of not only healthcare specialists but also general public.

Great story and I wish you all the best in getting this sorted out. The outcome could have been very different!
Re the global roll out, this is so frustrating after 3 years, in Aus there is no firm indication that apple have actually approached the TGA. I suspect the effort required is too much when consumers are falling over themselves to buy the latest watch anyway :frowning:

About a year and a half ago, my watch alerted me to a high heart rate while I appeared to be at rest. I felt fine with no symptoms. This was before the ECG and Atrial Fibrilstion detection - just the high heart rate. I called my doctor, and he said to come in.

He did an EKG, and sent it to a cardiologist. I had tried to verify the heart rate with a carotid pulse, but would get a high rate and low. He confirmed that, getting a pulse rate as high as 160, matching the watch. He (also wearing an Apple Watch) told me they take it seriosly with these alerts.

Turns out, I had Atrial Flutter. We could plot when it started by he heart rate graph on my phone. He said to take the EKG paper with me, and go directly to the ER, where they would do a procedure called an electro cardio version that should correct the rhythm. If I had been in it longer than 24 hours (most people don’t even know that they have this- I wouldn’t have) they would have had to treat me for several weeks with anticoagulants before trying anything.

I had the ECV procedure and within 3 hours walked out with a normal sinus rhythm. And you can see the heart rate chart on my watch when it was done.

I ended up seeing an electro-physiologist, who did a cardiac ablation procedure so that this atrial flutter wouldn’t come back. And it hasn’t.

Saw the EP cardiologist last week for a follow up. I showed him the new ECG (my series 2 broke - I wasn’t long getting a a new Series 4) as I was having some strange feeling rhythms that the watch said were inconclusive. He looked at the chart, and said, “yes, those are PVCs, and as few as your having with no real symptoms, totally harmless. But what a nice trace on that ECG… I can tell exactly what is happening!”

He told me to continue on wearing my watch, and any problems would probably be picked up, just like last time. If we had not caught it, the next notification could have been a stroke, or potentially heart failure.

I was always a believer in Apple technology, but this certainly cemented that!


How do I turn off “low heart rate” warnings? My watch is annoying me with those.

Watch app (on phone), My Watch tab —> Heart —> Low Heart Rate —> Off

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Oh thanks, I was stuck in the Health app…

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