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73-year-old New Jersey man credits Apple Watch for saving his life

<i>KYW</i><br/>A retired accountant in Lawrenceville
Willingham, James
A retired accountant in Lawrenceville

By Stephanie Stahl, Brad Nau

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    LAWRENCEVILLE, New Jersey (KYW) — A retired accountant in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, is crediting his smart watch for saving his life.

Frank Haggerty had no idea he had a heart problem, but he’s glad he had the heart rate app activated on his Apple Watch.

“I wanted to be cool, I always thought these were really sharp looking. They’re hip, they’re in style,” Haggerty said.

They’re trendy all right, but for Haggerty, his Apple Watch became a lifesaver.

“My wife and I were sleeping and the alarm went off on the watch,” Haggerty said.

The alert said his heart rate was too low, reading about 30 – a normal pulse is between 60 to 100 heartbeats per minute.

“They put me in an ambulance and they rushed me to the hospital,” Haggerty said.

The emergency department doctor was shocked the 73-year-old from Lawrenceville had no symptoms.

“He said, ‘You don’t feel lightheaded? Like your chest doesn’t hurt? You have nothing wrong?’ I said, ‘I feel like I could run a marathon.’ And his response was, ‘You might make it to the end of the hall,'” Haggerty said.

Haggerty ended up getting a pacemaker to regulate his slow heart rate.

“He wound up having what is called complete heart block, which is an electrical phenomenon in the heart where the heart’s intrinsic elect system malfunctions,” said Dr. Keith Wolfson, Haggerty’s cardiologist who works with Capital Health.

Wolfson said Apple Watches are pretty reliable for situations like Haggerty’s, but some bugs need to be worked out.

Haggerty, who’s back to exercising, has a new appreciation for his cool technology.

“Quite frankly, had I not had the watch on, I wouldn’t be sitting here today,” Haggerty said. “It’s my best friend, I say that in front of my wife.”

With his heart now regulated, Haggerty and his wife can focus again on puzzles and enjoying their life together.

Haggerty has an Apple Watch SE. Recently, the National Institutes of Health published research that reviewed 18 studies on smartwatches’ ability to detect cardiac arrhythmias and said the accuracy is high.

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