Doctors worry that cocaine users rely on Apple Watch as a lifesaver | Cult of Mac

Doctors worry that cocaine users rely on Apple Watch as a lifesaver


Apple Watch alerts user of irregular heart rhythms in sleep
Or you could just not take massive amounts of coke.
Photo: Apple

An Apple a day may keep the doctor away, but that doesn’t mean you should use an Apple Watch to safeguard against ill effects while binging on massive amounts of drugs.

According to a new report, medical experts are concerned that some drug users, particularly people taking cocaine, are using their Apple Watches and other wearables to monitor their heart rate while imbibing.

From the users’ perspective, the idea is that doing this could alert them to dangerously high heart rates while taking drugs such as cocaine. However, doctors point out that the technology does not protect people against the dangers of drug use.

“Taking drugs is always a risk, whether you’re monitoring a tracker or not,” Ethan Weiss, a cardiologist and associate professor at the University of California, San Francisco, tells CNBC. “It’s possible this is leading people to do more cocaine.”

Weiss also notes that there is no guarantee about the accuracy of heart rate trackers. Plus, cocaine use also can adversely affect a person’s heart rhythm and blood pressure. Neither of these are currently trackable by typical consumer smart devices.

The article details the story of several semi-regular cocaine users. One describes monitoring drug use as the only reason they wear a heart rate-tracking wearable. “I want an early warning system for when my heart’s going to explode,” one person wrote in a thread on Reddit.

“If someone says, ‘Let’s do a line,’ I’ll look at my watch,” says one of the people interviewed. “If I see I’m at [heart rates of] 150 or 160, I’ll say, ‘I’m good.’ That’s totally fine. Nobody gives you a hard time.”

The Apple Watch is a lifesaver … and that could be the problem

The use of wearable devices to monitor a person’s body during drug use may be an unfortunate side effect of stories about the lifesaving properties of these devices.

In the past, Florida teenager Deanna Recktenwald was alerted by her Apple wearable that her resting heart rate had hit 190 beats per minute and that she should seek medical attention. Doctors later discovered that the 18-year-old suffered from chronic kidney disease.

In another instance, the Apple Watch’s heart rate monitor led 32-year-old New York resident William Monzidelis to visit the hospital, where he was diagnosed with an erupted ulcer.

With that said, the idea that you’re safe from suffering a drug-induced heart attack because you’re wearing your trusty Fitbit or Apple Watch is, frankly, more than a little bit moronic!


Daily round-ups or a weekly refresher, straight from Cult of Mac to your inbox.

  • The Weekender

    The week's best Apple news, reviews and how-tos from Cult of Mac, every Saturday morning. Our readers say: "Thank you guys for always posting cool stuff" -- Vaughn Nevins. "Very informative" -- Kenly Xavier.