Detecting Heart Danger with Smartwatch

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Dalton man discovers AFib through device

DALTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — Atrial fibrillation affects upwards of six million Americans most of them older than 65.

But a northeastern Pennsylvania man much younger than that ended up with the heart irregularity. As Eyewitness News Reporter Mark Hiller explains, that man credits wearable technology with surviving the scare of his life.

As a financial advisor and office manager at Dwyer Financial Services, Brendan Dwyer crunches numbers. So does his Apple Watch.

“You can go in and check your heart rate. So you can go in and it will tell you what your current heart rate is,” said the 39-year-old Dalton man.

But the number it detected one night last year while he was sleeping was nearly three times his resting heart rate.

Brendan Dwyer became an avid runner after losing his father to heart disease in 2017.

“Very scary. Yeah, I woke up in a panic when I saw that,” he said.

It revealed he was in atrial fibrillation or AFib for short. AFib is an irregular heartbeat which can lead to blood clots, stroke or heart failure.

“And I felt my heart pounding. I definitely felt palpitations.”

It was especially startling to this father of four given the investment in his health he was making. Just two years earlier he was obese. But after losing his father to diabetes-related heart disease, Mr. Dwyer dropped nearly 60 pounds in six months through running and weight resistance exercise.

“Part of my motivation for getting in shape and losing weight was to hold off type 2 diabetes as long as I could,” Mr. Dwyer said.

AFib brought a new concern. Doctors confirmed what his watch revealed. They recommended Mr. Dwyer undergo a procedure called cardiac catheter ablation which is an intentional scarring of heart tissue to prevent abnormal electrical signals from moving through the heart.

Dwyer credits his smartwatch for alerting him about his irregular heartbeat.

“They went in through my femoral artery,” said Mr. Dwyer who had cardiac catheter ablation done last September.

Within two months of having the procedure, Mr. Dwyer was back into his running routine but this time with peace of mind knowing he conquered a life-threatening condition.

“I want to be around for my children. I want to see grandchildren. I want to be around for awhile,” Mr. Dwyer said.

Mr. Dwyer is on track to do that thanks to an investment in his health and wearable technology. Mr. Dwyer said he will run the Scranton Half Marathon on March 29.

He also plans to do his first 26.2 mile race in October at the Steamtown Marathon.

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