Phoenix man says smartwatch ended up potentially saving his life
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Smartwatches can do a lot of things. For example, they can let us know how much exercise we’re doing and connect us with others. But for one Phoenix man, his smartwatch may have saved his life.
Longtime journalist Steve Krafft had gotten irregular heart rhythm notifications a few times earlier last year and didn’t take them very seriously. But after he got one after a workout, he decided to talk to his heart specialist about them. The Phoenix resident quickly became very grateful for how persistent his smartwatch was. “I couldn’t figure out how the watch would know,” Krafft said.
An August visit to a cardiologist turned into a couple of weeks of wearing a heart monitor. That turned into the confirmation of atrial fibrillation or AFib. “I’m [the cardiologist] recommending that you get heart surgery,” Krafft said. “And I was like, I felt fine.”
But Banner University Medical Center Chief of Cardiology Dr. Roderick Tung, who ultimately performed a minimally invasive procedure on Krafft, says Steve or anyone else with AFib is anything but fine. “Atrial fibrillation is a problem for three reasons. Number one, it can cause disabling symptoms, number two it increases the risk of stroke by five-fold. And the last one is heart failure. Treatment strategies must be carefully discussed and weighed with the patient, and recent data has certainly suggested that early control can prevent strokes and prolong life.”
Tung says these smartwatches and their heartbeat notifications can be a game-changer in getting ahead of blood clotting and potential strokes or heart attacks. “If you don’t know you’re in it, those are the most dangerous types,” Tung said. “And there are so many strokes that are likely preventable if we have earlier detection of atrial fibrillation. Watches like this are fantastic.”
Fast forward to December of 2022, and Krafft underwent a heart ablation procedure, where a tube goes into the heart and heat is added to create tiny scars in the heart that block irregular electrical signals causing AFib. It only took a few days for Krafft to literally get back up and running. “It was pretty simple, it was outpatient, it might take a couple of hours,” Krafft said. “Who wouldn’t take that deal?”
Now Krafft is hoping that his experience with smartwatches and AFib can inspire others who might not have taken any potential heart issues very seriously. “This kind of technology isn’t perfect,” Krafft said. “If it kind of gets you going, and gets you on the right path then it’s good. It’s all good.”
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