Woman with deadly, hidden tumor saved by Apple Watch | Cult of Mac

Woman with deadly, hidden tumor saved by Apple Watch


Apple Watch keeps saving people's lives.
Apple Watch keeps saving people's lives.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

In recent years Apple Watch has shown itself to be a lifesaver, either by calling for help when a person’s incapacitated or by offering health readings that lead a person to see a doctor.

In the latter category it just happened again. A woman in Maine didn’t believe what the wearable was telling her at first. But going to the ER led to open-heart surgery that saved her from a probable fatal stroke.

Apple Watch heart health readings save life of woman with an aggressive tumor on the heart

The latest story of how Apple Watch’s heart health features can uncover dire, hidden health issues is a bit of a scary tale.

A CBS affiliate reported on a woman in Maine who initially figured her Apple Watch was malfunctioning when it indicated possible atrial fibrillation. But then it happened again. And then again.

The 67 year old doubted the wearable at first, but now she “swears by it,” and for good reason.

Apple Watch heart notifications

For two nights in a row in May, Kim Durkee’s Apple Watch warned her that her heart was experiencing atrial fibrillation. That’s an abnormal heart rhythm in the atrial chamber.

She didn’t believe what the wearable was indicating. But then a third warning began to change her mind.

“The third night the numbers went a little too high for comfort,” Durkee said. “Then I said you know what, go to the emergency room if they tell you it’s nothing to worry about then toss the watch.”

Well, not only did she not toss the watch. She now has a new appreciation of it.

Aggressive cancer uncovered

Doctors confirmed she had atrial fibrillation. But the scarier part was its cause — an undiscovered, aggressive tumor compromising her heart.

“Doctors in Maine soon confirmed that her heart was beating erratically for a simple and scary reason. She had a myxoma, a rare, fast-growing tumor that was choking off her heart’s blood supply and would have eventually caused a stroke,” the CBS report said.

Thanks to the Apple Watch’s warnings, Durkee’s doctors saw the problem. And then she was off to Massachusetts General Hospital, where surgeons removed the deadly tumor during a five-hour open-heart procedure.

No other symptoms

Other than the atrial fibrillation the Apple Watch noticed, Durkee exhibited no symptoms. But the tumor was at 4 centimeters in diameter and growing fast. It would “almost certainly” have killed her if it had gone undiscovered, the report said.

Durkee, recovering at home, said Apple Watch “truly saved my life.” CBS made note that she’s “been contacted by many who have bought Apple Watches after hearing her story.”


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