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How Smartwatches Are Saving Lives

Apple loves to showcase people who identified life-threatening conditions with their Apple Watches (for example, see “Teen’s Life Saved by His Apple Watch,” 22 September 2015), and Caitlin McGarry looked into the phenomenon for Tom’s Guide. While there are many heart-warming stories along these lines, the article points out that a smartwatch can’t actually diagnose a medical condition. If your Apple Watch warns you of a high heart rate, it’s most likely due to simple anxiety, not a pulmonary embolism or atrial fibrillation. Nonetheless, the data from smartwatch sensors could be useful as a warning of unusual heart activity, and Apple is working with Stanford University’s School of Medicine on the Apple Heart Study to determine if the Apple Watch’s heart-rate sensor can accurately detect atrial fibrillation.

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