Despite Blood Oxygen ban, Apple Watch is still saving lives — Tim Cook thanks couple for story of South Carolina man saved by heart rate monitoring

Apple Watch heart rate monitor
(Image credit: Future)

Despite some light legal trouble that recently saw the Apple Watch line’s blood oxygen technology removed from new devices, they are still saving lives. The latest is a gentleman from Summerville South Carolina, Jeff Priest.

According to Post and Courier, Priest initially “thought there was something wrong with [his] watch” when it started buzzing at him about heart issues that he didn’t feel. Eventually, however, his wife Ellen told him to head to the doctor for a checkup — something which ultimately saved his life.

Apple Watch to the rescue again

Turns out Jeff was suffering from Atrial Fibrillation, a condition that the Apple Watch heart monitor looks out for, alerting you if it finds it. In Jeffs's case, he needed to “go to the emergency room. Immediately”, or run the risk of suffering a stroke or a heart attack.

Other than the Apple Watch telling him that he had a problem with his heart, Jeff otherwise felt fine, and wouldn’t have headed to the hospital had his wife not noticed the multiple notifications he was receiving from his watch. When they got to the hospital it was discovered that “his heart rate was bouncing back and forth between 40 and nearly 200”, even though he “wasn’t having any symptoms”. A few doctor's appointments and some prescriptions later, Jeff is on the mend.

After the watch saved his life, the couple sent a message to Apple CEO Tim Cook, who, as is often the case, wrote back to the couple about how pleased he was that Jeff was recovering from his condition.

Cook wrote:


I’m so glad your husband sought medical attention and received the treatment he needed. Thanks so much for sharing his story with us.

Please give him my best.


Despite Apple Watch’s ability to spot problems early enough so that people can head to hospital and help save their lives, there would be some that would have Apple remove a range of sensors from the Apple Watch — or at least pay a chunk of money to keep them around. The Apple Watch Series 9 and the Apple Watch Ultra 2 have already lost their Blood Oxygen app thanks to a lawsuit brought by Masimo. Thankfully it won a case against another company, Alcor, that, according to Reuters, claimed the Cupertino giant was “monopolizing the U.S. market for heart rate monitoring apps for its Apple Watch”

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Tammy Rogers
Senior Staff Writer

As iMore's Senior Staff writer, Tammy uses her background in audio and Masters in screenwriting to pen engaging product reviews and informative buying guides. The resident audiophile (or audio weirdo), she's got an eye for detail and a love of top-quality sound. Apple is her bread and butter, with attention on HomeKit and Apple iPhone and Mac hardware. You won't find her far away from a keyboard even outside of working at iMore – in her spare time, she spends her free time writing feature-length and TV screenplays. Also known to enjoy driving digital cars around virtual circuits, to varying degrees of success. Just don't ask her about AirPods Max - you probably won't like her answer.