‘This was maybe a life saved as a result of it’: Sarasota sheriff’s deputy receives shocking diagnosis after Apple Watch alert

SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — The Apple Watch alert Sarasota Deputy Sheriff Luke Heyman felt on his wrist was unlike any other he received before — a ‘high heart rate’ notification.

“So I checked my heart rate, it was about 160,” said Heyman. “I thought it was just a malfunction of the watch or just an erroneous reading.”

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Two days later, he said he felt sick and his legs felt like jello. Then he got the same alert.

“At that point, I figured, well, two alerts in one week,” Heyman explained. “I should probably go get checked out.”

Doctors ruled out a heart attack, but couldn’t diagnose it. Heyman said he went home only for the nausea to return. His resting heart was 160 beats per minute again, so he went back to the hospital.

“When I went to the ER, they did a CT scan with some contrast,” Heyman recalled. “They found that I had multiple blood clots in each of my lungs.”

He said he started on blood thinners shortly thereafter.

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“There’s a good chance this deputy would have had a worse outcome,” said Dr. Pavan Kapadia. “Some sort of bad event — passing out, blacking out, or even worse.”

Dr. Kapadia is an AdventHealth Tampa cardiologist.

“I’m glad that he had that watch with him,” Dr. Kapadia said. “He looked at some of the notices and the alerts that came up and he said, ‘Something doesn’t sound right, let me get it checked out.'”

Dr. Kapadia said a study found Apple Watches are very good at detecting some abnormal heart rhythms.

“We’ve got great utilizations for it,” Dr. Kapadia explained. “I think, in this deputy’s case, this was maybe a life saved as a result of it.”

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Though Deputy Heyman said he doesn’t like to think about that worst-case scenario, he did upgrade his Apple Watch once he recovered.

“If you have an Apple Watch or any kind of smart device, and you get alerts on it,” Heyman cautioned. “Take them serious.”

Heyman recovered for a few months after starting the blood thinners and took time off work, and his heart rate is now back to normal. He ended up writing a letter to Apple’s Tim Cook, retelling his story. Just a few hours later, he received a response from the CEO, thanking him for sharing.

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