The Apple Watch is not your doctor, but it has become a good early detection tool

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Lauren began to feel weird. She got very tired, she put on weight, she was irritable. She went to the doctor and he detected a problem with her thyroid. The story seems normal, but when Lauren went to the doctor she checked her Apple Watch and saw how the watch had detected a sharp drop in her oxygen consumption two months before she noticed her symptoms. She had notifications turned off, and just because of it she posted a video that has gone viral on TikTok and that shows how activating those notifications can avoid many scares in our health.

When a watch can save your life. The potential of the Apple Watch and other smart watches that monitor various parameters of our health is clear from this story. One that by the way is not the first nor will it be the last: the Apple Watch fall detection saved the life to an older man a few days ago, but already there was done the same in various occasions. This facet of fall sensor is combined with the monitoring of various parameters, which leads to potential early detection.

Give me a break, Apple Watch

Hey, something is wrong with your body. Precisely our protagonist highlighted how important it is that the notifications of the Apple Watch are activated. “If you have an Apple Watch,” she was saying, “you have to make sure those notifications are turned on right now because I didn’t and I was diagnosed with thyroid disease. I essentially noticed all of those symptoms, but I would have known something was up sooner if my Apple Watch had alerted me to those changes.”

He’s not a doctor, but he helps. The early detection that something is wrong is the key to that constant monitoring to which both the Apple Watch and watches that also record those and other parameters. Adam Love, a 24-year-old Australian guy, saw an alert of his Apple Watch: s heart rate reached 140 beats when he slept, while under normal conditions it was 60. He went to the doctor and thanks to that warning they detected a serious problem that could have ended in tragedy. He did have notifications turned on, like Diane Feenstra, who also used his watch to detect that something was going well and affirms that saved his life.

But then I trust my watch? Apple has been pushing those kinds of medical features into its watches for some time. The inclusion of the electrocardiogram ECG) was, for example, highly debated, and as we explained in Engadget, its usefulness is limited. Still, it can be very useful for people with joint fibrillation, allowing that cardiac “snapshot of the crisis” to help these people avoid serious problems.

The clock makes us more hypochondriacs. The problem with all of these features is that while they certainly help with early detection, features like ECG are useless for most of the population, and “in quite a few cases, false positives will subject patients to the negative impact of anxiety and unnecessary treatments. It’s like using the thermometer or sphygmomanometer that we buy for home: they can help, but they can also generate anxiety and worry: “False positives are a huge source of hours of waiting rooms, medical tests and unnecessary treatments that we would avoid on our own.” by following the recommendations.

But wait, this is more. All those features are great, but the holy grail of smartwatches is blood sugar measurement, which is key for diabetics. Both Apple—there are rumors that the Apple Watch 8 will integrate such a sensor—as Samsung are working hard to offer that capability in future smart watches, and again doubts arise about the accuracy and medical validity of something as delicate as this. These sensors are likely to be very useful in detecting possible problems, but at the moment it seems difficult to say goodbye to the glucometer.

Lauren began to feel weird. She got very tired, she put on weight, she was irritable. She went to the…

Lauren began to feel weird. She got very tired, she put on weight, she was irritable. She went to the…

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