Apple Watch saves another life thanks to a feature we all take for granted

Apple Watch hear rate
(Image credit: Future)

Stories of the Apple Watch helping to save lives aren't uncommon these days, thanks in part to the sheer number of them being worn every single day all around the world. But while there are advanced features like Crash Detection that can call for help if you're in a wreck, in this case, it was an old and oft-forgotten feature that saved the day.

Apple Watches have been capable of measuring the wearer's heart rate ever since the first model shipped back in 2015 and it's been a pivotal part of the wearable's health and fitness capabilities ever since. Now, an artist from Atlanta says that it helped to save his life as well.

Bob Ichter says that he only noticed that something was wrong when he spotted an unusually high heart rate on his Apple Watch during a workout, and even then he didn't pay it much mind. But eventually, he did — and a subsequent visit to the hospital might just have saved his life.

'I was not riding that hard'

A local news report says that Ichter was riding his Peloton at home because the weather was so bad he didn't want to risk riding a bike outside when he noticed an unusually high heart rate.

"It was a nasty day, so I was on my Peloton instead of on the BeltLine and I checked my heart rate because that's one of the reasons why you have a watch," the artist told Fox 5. "It was 150, and I was not riding that hard."

Noting that he assumed that the reading was wrong, he carried on as normal before a friend said he should get things checked out. After a visit to the doctor, it was confirmed that Ichter was in atrial fibrillation — a rapid and irregular heart rate. Notably, wearables like the Apple Watch Series 9 can alert wearers of Afib but that doesn't seem to have happened here.

Thankfully Ichter feels fine eight months on from the incident, but it took surgery to get there. He spent 12 days in the hospital after heart surgery to correct a dilated aorta that he might never have known about if it wasn't for his Apple Watch.

More from iMore

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.