Teen credits Apple Watch for saving his life

Teen credits Apple Watch for saving his life

Paul Houle, a Massachusetts high school football player, was finishing up football practice when his Apple Watch alerted him that his heartbeat was abnormal, so he decided to go to the emergency room at a nearby hospital.

“Doctors told me that if I had not said anything and gone to practice the next day, I very easily could have died,” Houle said in an interview.

After a long “two-a-day” practice session, Houle said he felt back pain when he took a deep breathe, but thought it was soreness from practice. After a shower and a short nap, he decided to check his watch’s heart rate monitor. The watch indicated his heart rate was 145 beats per minute – about 60 to 80 beats higher than his usual resting heart rate.

Houle went to the school’s athletic trainer, and both thought the watch might be broken, but after being examined by the school nurse, he was driven to the emergency room. There, he was diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis – a syndrome in which muscle fibers release an organ damaging substance into the bloodstream.

Houle said that his heart rate readings were perfectly in sync with the monitor in the emergency room. After spending three days in the hospital, Houle is home, but he is unsure when he will be able to play sports again.

“It’s a great outcome and prevented something potentially tragic from happening,” says Dr. James McCriskin, cardiologist with Advocate Heart Institute at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, Ill.

After hearing about the story this week, Apple CEO Tim Cook called the teen, offering him an iPhone and an internship.

In Illinois, Advocate Health Care supports Young Hearts for Life, a group which tests active high school students for heart abnormalities and uses technology in other ways to prevent tragedy.

“Each year there’s about 2,500 deaths in young adults,” says Dr. McCriskin. “We know that a screening EKG can actually pick up a significant number of these patients, even if they’re asymptomatic.”

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One Comment

  1. In THIS case a young hearts for life screen would have not helped, this situation was due to overexertion and can occur under excess muscle use-. but the YHFL screens for other very dangerous conditions; I hope most high schools sign up for it and that everyone attends, not just the athletes, as non active people can have same risk as the jocks

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.