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Apple Watch may have saved Kansas woman’s life

Jeff Williams, Apple's chief operating officer, speaks during an event to announce new products on Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016, in San Francisco. (Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP)
Jeff Williams, Apple's chief operating officer, speaks during an event to announce new products on Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016, in San Francisco. (Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP)

SCRANTON, Kan. – An Apple Watch may have helped save a Kansas woman’s life by alerting her to her rapid heartbeat.

Heather Hendershot went to an urgent care clinic and then to Stormont Vail Health’s emergency room after the watch alerted her to her above average heart rate, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported. The watch indicated her heart rate was about 120 beats per minute, which is high for a 25-year-old in a resting position.

“I thought I might be sick and my body was just fighting infection, but my husband is a worry wart,” Hendershot said.

Blood tests determined Hendershot had moderate to severe hyperthyroidism, said Alan Wynne, an endocrinologist at Stormont Vail. The condition occurs when the thyroid pumps too much hormone into the bloodstream. Symptoms include a rapid heart rate, tremors, shortness of breath and chest pain.

The condition can be fatal in extreme situations if left untreated, Wynne said. Hendershot’s only symptom was the rapid heart rate detected by her watch.

“I’ve been doing this 25 years and it’s the first time ever I’ve heard someone tell me they didn’t notice anything and were later diagnosed with severe hyperthyroidism,” Wynne said.

Apple Watches use LED lights and light-sensitive photodiodes to detect the amount of blood flowing in an individual’s wrist.

“If I hadn’t been wearing it, I wouldn’t have known anything was wrong,” Hendershot said.

Devices such as smartwatches may help increase the early detection of health problems, Wynne said.

“To have something like that monitoring you or me in the background, it’s really brought us to a new threshold,” he said.