Apple Watch alerts man to life-threatening heart problem – ABC News

Apple Watch alerts man to life-threatening heart problem – ABC News

When Ed Dentel updated his Apple Watch on Thursday night, he didn’t expect it to upend his weekend, much less change his life.

Interested in Apple?

Add Apple as an interest to stay up to date on the latest Apple news, video, and analysis from ABC News.

The 46-year-old communications consultant from Richmond, Virginia, does taekwondo with his family three times a week, bikes and skis frequently, and had no history of heart problems.

He said he’d installed the software update with the electrocardiogram app to play around with it.

“The application on the launch sounded off right away with atrial fibrillation — not something I’ve ever heard of, but since I’m in pretty decent health and never had a problem before, I didn’t give it much thought. I figured something was glitchy, so I set everything down turned in for the night,” Dentel told ABC News.

PHOTO: Ed Dentel received an alert from his Apple watch about an abnormal heart rate.Courtesy Ed Dentel
Ed Dentel received an alert from his Apple watch about an abnormal heart rate.
PHOTO: Ed Dentel received an alert from his Apple watch about an abnormal heart rate.Courtesy Ed Dentel
Ed Dentel received an alert from his Apple watch about an abnormal heart rate.

On Friday morning, over breakfast with his 7-year old daughter, he put his watch back on.

“Right away: AFib. So I shut everything down and turned it back on and tried it again. Same result, same result, same result,” he said. He asked his wife to try. Hers came back normal. Twice. “I put it on my left wrist, on top, AFib. I put it on my left wrist, on the bottom, AFib. I switch to my right wrist. Same thing. So, starting to get a little bit alarmed here.”

Atrial fibrillation, commonly called AFib or AF, is a specific kind of irregular heart rhythm. If left untreated, it can weaken heart muscles and increase the risk of stroke.

Dentel drove to a nearby urgent care center. The parking lot was full, the waiting room was crowded, so he almost left, he said.

“I thought, ‘This is silly. I’ve got meetings, I’ve got stuff to do. I don’t have time to sit here and wait,'” he recalled. “But I looked down and checked the watch one more time, and it says ‘AFib.'”

Checking in, Dentel said he felt like a hypochondriac explaining that his watch told him something was wrong. But he was quickly given an EKG by a technician, who called for a doctor, who said, “Yup, you’re in AFib. This thing may have just saved your life.”

“That’s when I started learning about what AFib is and what its impact can be and how important it is to get notice of it really early in your life,” Dentel told ABC News. “I talked to the doctor a little bit, and he was trying to decide whether it made sense to do an immediate transfer to a hospital.”

Because of his relatively young age and good health, the doctor referred him to a cardiologist for an outpatient visit. After an exam, a review of the EKG and an ultrasound, his diagnosis was confirmed.

“I was dealing with a case of atrial fibrillation that I never knew I had and probably wouldn’t have known anytime soon,” Dentel said. In fact, earlier this year, he’d had chest pain and was diagnosed with heartburn after an EKG produced normal results. “So just as recently as late spring or early summer, everything was ideal and perfect. Sometime after that … it kicked off.”

The Patient First urgent care facility did not immediately respond to a request for comment from ABC News. Dentel’s cardiologist, Dr. Samuel S. Wu, was not immediately available for comment. Apple declined to comment on this story.

What is atrial fibrillation (AFib)?

AFib is the most common kind of irregular heartbeat, according to the American Heart Association’s website, which defines it as “the abnormal firing of electrical impulses causes the atria (the top chambers in the heart) to quiver (or fibrillate).”

The most common symptom is a fluttering heartbeat, while others include an abnormally fast heartbeat, fatigue, dizziness or chest pain.

AFib can result in heart palpitations, complications, weakened heart muscle, and an increased risk of stroke, said Michael N. Cho, a cardiologist at Crystal Run Healthcare in Middletown, New York.

In Dentel’s case, he had a rapid and irregular heartbeat, even though he appeared asymptomatic.

“It looks like my heart’s a jazz drummer,” he said, describing his EKG results. “I can be sitting there, and my heart rate will go from 70 to 90 to 110 and back to 60. When I look at my wife’s readout on the watch, it’s very nice and even and consistent.”

Last week, Dentel’s pulse, usually under 70, was 100 to 120, alarming doctors, who considered hospitalizing him. His blood pressure jumped to about 160 over 110.

PHOTO: Ed Dentels EKG after getting tested following an alert from his Apple watch.Courtesy Ed Dentel
Ed Dentel’s EKG after getting tested following an alert from his Apple watch.

AFib can be linked to smoking, alcohol abuse, high blood, obesity, which don’t apply to Dentel, he said. He started medication on Friday and has follow-up appointments this week.

PHOTO: Ed Dentel poses for a photo with his wife Natalie and daughter Kayleigh.Courtesy Ed Dentel
Ed Dentel poses for a photo with his wife Natalie and daughter Kayleigh.

The Apple Watch Series 4 is the latest version of the company’s smart watch. With this latest software update, all hardware versions can monitor heartbeats, but the user has to download the software and turn it on in the device’s settings. Only the Series 4 can produce the EKGs. None of the devices can tell you if you are having a heart attack. AFib is a precursor to potential blood clots, stroke and heart attack.

Doctors said they’re taking a wait-and-see approach with the new Watch.

“It is potentially helpful in these small instances,” said Cho, who did not treat Dentel. “The incidence is higher as you get older — if you had Apple Watches on 80-year-olds, you’d have a high incidence of AFib. If you have mostly 20-, 30- or 40-year-olds, you’re not going to see that much.”

Cho said he has not spent enough time or reviewed enough data to draw a conclusion about the Apple Watch, but said the fitness trackers do not always have the most reliable information.

“I have patients come in and tell me, ‘My heart rate’s 100,'” Cho said. “But when you put a more accurate monitor on them, you don’t necessarily see the same data. With the Apple watch, we’ll see.”

This report was featured in the Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018, episode of ABC News’ daily news podcast, “Start Here.”

“Start Here” is the flagship daily news podcast from ABC News — a straightforward look at the day’s top stories in 20 minutes. Listen for free every weekday on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeartRadio, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, or the ABC News app. On Amazon Echo, ask Alexa to “Play ‘Start Here'” or add the “Start Here” skill to your Flash Briefing. Follow @StartHereABC on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for exclusive content, show updates and more.


  1. I simply want to say I’m newbie to blogging and actually savored you’re web blog. Almost certainly I’m likely to bookmark your website . You definitely have very good articles and reviews. Thanks a lot for sharing with us your web-site.

  2. It’s actually a great and useful piece of information. I’m glad that you shared this useful info with us. Please keep us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Good article. It’s very unfortunate that over the last ten years, the travel industry has had to deal with terrorism, SARS, tsunamis, bird flu virus, swine flu, and also the first ever entire global tough economy. Through all this the industry has proven to be sturdy, resilient plus dynamic, obtaining new methods to deal with misfortune. There are always fresh complications and chance to which the market must again adapt and answer.

  4. I do not even understand how I finished up right here, but I thought this put up used to be great. I do not realize who you’re however definitely you are going to a well-known blogger in the event you aren’t already 😉 Cheers!

  5. I’m impressed, I have to say. Actually not often do I encounter a weblog that’s both educative and entertaining, and let me inform you, you could have hit the nail on the head. Your idea is excellent; the problem is one thing that not enough people are talking intelligently about. I’m very joyful that I stumbled throughout this in my search for one thing referring to this.

  6. I intended to send you the very small note in order to thank you very much as before relating to the incredible ideas you’ve discussed on this page. This is really seriously generous of people like you to provide freely what exactly a lot of people might have sold for an e book to help with making some dough on their own, most importantly given that you might well have tried it in the event you wanted. Those secrets in addition acted as a easy way to comprehend other people have similar dreams the same as my very own to know the truth many more around this condition. I’m certain there are millions of more pleasurable occasions in the future for individuals who find out your site.

  7. The the next occasion I just read a blog, Hopefully that this doesnt disappoint me up to this. I am talking about, It was my method to read, but I really thought youd have something interesting to express. All I hear can be a number of whining about something that you could fix should you werent too busy looking for attention.

  8. Very nice post. I simply stumbled upon your blog and wanted to mention that I’ve really enjoyed browsing your weblog posts. After all I’ll be subscribing in your feed and I’m hoping you write once more soon!

  9. I’d ought to consult with you here. Which is not some thing It’s my job to do! I love reading a post that could get people to feel. Also, thank you permitting me to comment!

  10. Excellent blog here! Also your site loads up fast! What host are you using? Can I get your affiliate link to your host? I wish my web site loaded up as fast as yours lol

  11. A lot of thanks for every one of your labor on this site. Kate delights in making time for investigations and it’s obvious why. I learn all of the dynamic medium you present functional things by means of your blog and in addition recommend contribution from website visitors on this theme then my simple princess is certainly being taught a lot. Take advantage of the remaining portion of the new year. You’re the one carrying out a good job.

  12. I have observed that in the world nowadays, video games will be the latest rage with kids of all ages. There are times when it may be not possible to drag your family away from the activities. If you want the best of both worlds, there are several educational video games for kids. Good post.

  13. I’ve been surfing online more than 3 hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. It is pretty worth enough for me. In my view, if all web owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the web will be a lot more useful than ever before.

  14. Thanks a lot for providing individuals with such a spectacular possiblity to discover important secrets from here. It really is very excellent plus jam-packed with a lot of fun for me and my office fellow workers to visit your blog more than three times per week to see the new guidance you have. And of course, I am also always amazed concerning the excellent principles you give. Certain 1 ideas in this post are really the most suitable I’ve had.

  15. Another issue is that video gaming has become one of the all-time largest forms of entertainment for people spanning various ages. Kids enjoy video games, and also adults do, too. The XBox 360 is amongst the favorite video games systems for people who love to have a lot of games available to them, and also who like to relax and play live with people all over the world. Thanks for sharing your ideas.

  16. I would like to thank you for the efforts you’ve put in writing this web site. I’m hoping the same high-grade site post from you in the upcoming also. Actually your creative writing skills has inspired me to get my own web site now. Actually the blogging is spreading its wings fast. Your write up is a good example of it.

  17. fantastic post, very informative. I wonder why the other experts of this sector do not notice this. You should continue your writing. I am confident, you’ve a great readers’ base already!

  18. Good website! I really love how it is easy on my eyes and the data are well written. I’m wondering how I could be notified whenever a new post has been made. I have subscribed to your feed which must do the trick! Have a nice day!

  19. Hey There. I found your blog using msn. This is a very well written article. I’ll make sure to bookmark it and come back to read more of your useful information. Thanks for the post. I will certainly comeback.

  20. Hey There. I found your blog using msn. This is a really well written article. I will make sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your useful info. Thanks for the post. I’ll certainly comeback.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here