‘I was on the brink of a heart attack’: How smartwatch saved UAE resident’s life

‘I was on the brink of a heart attack’: How smartwatch saved UAE resident’s life

Nedhal Mohammed Al Rahma was chatting with his friends and relatives during a get-together when his smartwatch suddenly started beeping and wouldn’t stop.

Though the alerts were irritating, he just ignored them and kept talking to his pals. “I was feeling annoyed that my Apple watch was persistently pinging, so I tried silencing the alert notification,” said the UAE national.

Over the next few days, the smarwatch continued to send what turned out to be health alerts. “Two to three days had already passed by then but because of the constant alerts, I was forced to take heed of it as the messaging just wouldn’t stop.”

Al Rahman is a diabetic and has been managing the condition for the past 20 years. When the alerts popped up, he wasn’t experiencing any physical symptoms or discomfort. But when a doctor saw him — he was shocked to see the reports from a series of medical tests.

“The doctor said that I was on the brink of a heart attack. He did an angiogram, followed by an angioplasty. He said 70 to 80 per cent of my arteries were completely blocked,” the Emirati said.

Now, Al Rahman could go as far as saying he “owes his life to his Apple watch”.

“Without its notifications, I’m not sure where I would be right now. It’s frightening to think what could have happened if I was just wearing a regular watch instead,” he said.

He added: “The mere thought of what could have transpired is truly daunting.”

Six months later, Al Rahma had to undergo an open-heart surgery. “I have had three Apple watches since then. Some have been gifted by my sons… some I had bought myself. I now wear this watch even when I am sleeping,” said the electrical engineer who once worked for Dubal, now called Emirates Global Aluminum (EGA).

It was a close friend, Dr Mansoor Anwar Habib, who encouraged him to share his story and potentially save more lives.

“Monitoring several indicators is crucial when assessing heart health including a consistently high heart rate of more than 100 beats per minute, an irregular rhythm, and low cardiac fitness scores,” said Dr Habib, a renowned Emirati consultant of family medicine and occupational health and an advocate of mental wellbeing.

The specialist recommends consulting a doctor if a smartwatch or wearable gadget sends more than one alarm per week. He explains these could be indicative of unusually high or low heart rates, which could be signs of a serious underlying condition. These could also help users identify situations that may warrant further evaluation.

“These devices have revolutionided the approach to detect heart-related ailments. The algorithm it uses truly helps early detection and prevention of deadly heart outcomes. I see more patients in my clinic using such devices to monitor their health, including myself,” said Dr Habib.

“I also appreciate that these modern gadgets only warn you when there is a pattern rather than a one-time reading to avoid unnecessary anxiety.”

Hailing the smart health companion that saved his life, Al Rahma said: “I feel these gadgets can truly transform lives if used properly. From my own experience I would like to urge people not to ignore these signals that your wearables send out. The accuracy of these modern gadgets is indeed impressive. Not just health, even things like weather, traffic, among others can be useful to an individual.”

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