Debbie holds up her smart watch
Heart and Vascular

How a Smart Watch Helped Save a Life: Debbie’s Story

May 15 2019

Smart watches and wearable devices are becoming more and more popular.

They help us stay active, communicate with each other, read our heart rate and sometimes could save our lives. At least this was the case for Debbie and her Apple Watch® wrist wearable device.

“The Apple Watch probably saved my life … along with the health experts at Mercy Health,” said Debbie Copeland-Bloom who works in Communications at Mercy Health.

Think about being outside in the summer sun, day after day, without sunscreen. The sun’s rays feel nice and warm and seem harmless. Before you know it, a red, painful sunburn shows up or worse, fatal skin cancer can develop.

That was almost Debbie, but much more serious. “I was oblivious to warning signs that something was not right with my body.” Luckily her Apple Watch caught her attention when it displayed her heart rate and helped save her life.

Debbie switched her watch face to display her heart rate and found out something more.

At the end of December, Debbie switched her watch face to one that shows the heart’s beats per minute (BPM). “I was skeptical when it showed a consistent 155 – 165 BPM. I didn’t believe it, because I felt normal. I didn’t feel my heart racing. I wasn’t out of breath. I was convinced the watch was wrong,” said Debbie.

Debbie ordered an oximeter, a device that fits on your finger and shows the oxygen level in the blood and your heart rate, to keep an accurate check on her pulse. It confirmed what the watch was reporting. She went to see her primary care physician, Dr. Doug Saunders, who sent her to the emergency department at The Jewish Hospital – Mercy Health.

Debbie learned that her situation was serious. She had a heart flutter and atrial fibrillation. “Because my heart had probably been racing for a while, my ventricles were pumping at only 25 percent.” A portion of her colon had been deprived of oxygen, resulting in ischemic colitis.

“I’m doing well now thanks, in part, to the amazing technology on my wrist. Without the heads-up from my watch, I don’t think I would have sought medical care until it was too late. A big thanks to the innovators at Apple Inc.”

Debbie is very grateful for how her story turned out.

“I also owe thanks to the nurses, physicians, technicians and many others at The Jewish Hospital who provided me with expert, compassionate care. As well as to Dr. Saunders and his office staff; to Dr. Jefferson Burroughs, Dr. Jonathan Rapp and Frances Wood, CNP with Mercy Health – The Heart Institute; and to Dr. David Mangels with Ohio Gastroenterology and Liver Institute.”



Apple® and Apple Watch® are registered trademarks of Apple Inc.

How a Smart Watch Helped Save a Life:  Debbie’s Story is an independent publication and has not been authorized, sponsored, or otherwise approved by Apple Inc.

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