Couple grateful for Apple watch that alerted them to husband’s irregular heartbeat

Couple grateful for Apple watch that alerted them to husband’s irregular heartbeat
Atrial fibrillation, or AFIB, is an irregular heartbeat. If left untreated or undetected, it can lead to blood clots, causing a stroke or other heart complications. (Source: WMUR/Hearst/CNN)

NASHUA, NH (WMUR/CNN) - An Apple watch that started as a fun tech gift around Christmas ended up helping detect a New Hampshire man’s irregular heartbeat, making sure he got the proper treatment.

A self-described “tech geek,” Barry Maden said he bought himself a new Apple watch in part to keep a closer eye on his health after suffering a brain injury.

"He originally got it because they have a new fall risk app where, if he were to fall and I'm not nearby, the fall sensor will sense that he fell and call 911," said his wife, Tara Maden.

But the watch ended up detecting something Barry Maden didn’t even have on his radar. He thought he was just experiencing anxiety around traveling for the holidays, but his new watch alerted him it was actually something much more serious.

“And it said, ‘It looks like your heart is in AFIB. You should contact your doctor,’” Barry Maden said.

Atrial fibrillation, or AFIB, is an irregular heartbeat. If left untreated or undetected, it can lead to blood clots, causing a stroke or other heart complications.

With the watch showing Barry Maden what his actual heartbeat looked like, he decided to go to the hospital. Sure enough, medical professionals told him he was, in fact, in AFIB.

“It would’ve probably taken me longer to get to the doctor’s had I not had something actually telling me that something’s not right,” he said.

Doctors sedated Barry Maden, and his heart was essentially stopped and restarted to treat the issue.

Now, the small piece of technology seems like an even greater gift to the Madens. Tara Maden says she feels particularly grateful and blessed.

"Instead of just being a toy or a tchotchke, I think I'll probably pay closer attention to it," Barry Maden said.

The electrocardiogram feature on the Apple watch does have limitations. It can’t detect most heart rhythm abnormalities or electrical changes associated with a heart attack.

Copyright 2019 WMUR, Hearst via CNN. All rights reserved.