Apple Watch detects teen’s rare heart ailment


Apple Watch heart rate monitor
An Apple Watch can constantly watch for problems with your heart.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

A 13-year-old Oklahoma boy sent a frightened text to his mother after his Apple Watch showed his heart rate was at 190 beats per minute while he was sitting still. But thanks to this warning — and a lengthy operation — he’s back to playing sports.

A frightened text

Skylar Joslin loves football and basketball. He’s not the sort one would expect to have a heart problem. Especially given his age.

But shortly after he received an Apple Watch, he was warned his heart was racing even though he wasn‘t exercising. After he contacted his mother, she rushed him to hospital where he was diagnosed with Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT), according to Oklahoma’s KFOR.

SVT is a non-life threatening condition in which the heart speeds up for no external reason. Still, if left untreated will eventually weaken the heart muscles.

Liz Joslin, Skylar’s mother told KFOR “From the time this happened till his heart surgery, his cardiologist called and said his heart rate got up to 280 in the middle of the night! Two-hundred and eighty!”

The teen underwent a 7.5-hour cardiac ablation to prevent future instances of abnormally rapid heart rhythm. This was followed by months of follow up, but now Skylar is back on the football field.

“If I wouldn’t have gotten his Apple Watch, I don’t know that I would’ve ever known,” Liz Joslin told KFOR. “I mean it’s unknown how long it would’ve been going on or how long it would’ve really taken.”

Apple Watch has a built-in heart monitor

An Apple Watch continuously records the wearer’s heart rate as long as its on their wrist. And it can notify the wearer if the rate gets too high or too low.

But this feature needs to be enabled in the iPhone’s Watch app. Go to My Watch > Notifications > Heart. There, you’ll find options to select what frequency triggers the notification.


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