Smart Watch Notification Saves a Life

By: Julie Devereux

October 03, 2022

man with smart watch

In sailing, when you encounter rough seas, you can’t change the wind pattern, but you can adjust your sails. The same rings true for life. We confront unpredictable circumstances daily, but how we react to them can make all the difference. For Renown patient and avid sailor Robert (Dan) Seifers, recent events make this mantra reign true.

A Concerning Alert

Monday, Aug. 22, started out just like any other day for Dan. He was on a walk with his dog, enjoying the sunshine, when suddenly he felt a wave of dizziness and a buzz on his wrist. His Apple Watch alerted him that his heart rate had dropped to dangerous levels. Returning home immediately, he notified his wife, Carol. Doing their best not to panic, the couple confirmed the reading with their at-home blood pressure machine. The watch was right – Dan’s heart rate was in the low 30s. After taking some time to see if Dan’s heart rate would return to normal, the couple decided it was time he sought medical help. Conveniently, Carol had a lab appointment scheduled next door to Dan’s primary care physician, Dr. Bonnie Ferrara. The couple headed out the door, not realizing what the rest of the day would bring.

The Next 48 Hours

Upon arrival at the office, Dan calmly approached the front desk to explain his situation. With no delay, staff members sprang into action, quickly showing Dan to a patient room and notifying Dr. Ferrara. Before he knew it, Dan was receiving an electrocardiogram (EKG). Following a review of the results, Dr. Ferrara returned to let Dan know he needed to get to the hospital immediately.

The rest of the afternoon moved quickly for the couple. Dr. Ferrara had already notified the Renown Regional Medical Center Emergency Room staff, who were on standby for the couple’s arrival. “Gee, this must be serious,” thought Dan, who at the time was experiencing no other alarming symptoms other than the low heart rate indicated on his watch.

Several doctors and nurses began their analysis, including a chest x-ray, blood test and additional EKG. Confirming Dr. Ferrara’s results, a Renown cardiologists, Dr. Christopher Rowan and Dr. Shining Sun, joined Dan’s care team. Within two hours of checking into the hospital, Dan was admitted, monitored overnight and prepped for surgery to receive a pacemaker the next day.

Tracking Your Heart Health

Following the purchase of their Apple Watch devices, Dan and Carol were unaware of these heart health features. Like many others, they were looking forward to the next best tech gadget that would help them stay connected with their friends and family. Now, the couple says they will use their experience to spread the word about the importance of ensuring these settings are enabled.

According to Apple, you can turn on these notifications from the Heart Rate app on your Apple Watch (Series 1 or later) to alert you to high or low heart rates and irregular heart rhythms. If you receive a notification, an irregular rhythm suggestive of atrial fibrillation (A-Fib) or a low or high heart rate has been identified and confirmed with multiple readings.

In Dan’s case, the signal from his watch was the result of a heart block, a condition where the electrical signal that controls your heartbeat is partially or completely blocked. Dizziness and low heart rate are common symptoms of a heart block. But this was not the first time the couple had experienced this type of alert from their watch.

More than a year and half ago, Carol’s watch notified her of an irregular heart rhythm that was suggestive of A-Fib. She immediately made an appointment with Dr. Danish Atwal, the lead cardiologist at Renown’s Helaine Greenberg Women's Heart Center. Thanks to medication prescribed by Dr. Atwal, Carol now lives a healthy, active life while managing her A-Fib, continuing to wear her Apple Watch, which can also help track her A-Fib History. “I’ll share our story with anyone who will listen and encourage them to get a smart watch. I consider myself an unofficial spokesperson,” said Carol with a chuckle.

A Thankful Heart

The Senior Care Plus members could not be more amazed at the way Dan was treated by the staff at Renown. “I wish I could personally thank them all. I will highly recommend Renown to all I come in contact with,” said Dan with his Apple Watch still proudly strapped to his wrist. “I was closely monitored and treated like royalty.”

Quick action to medical emergencies like Dan’s is just one of the many reasons why collaboration is part of our four key values at Renown. The open line of communication between our primary care facilities and hospitals helped Dan get the prompt care he needed, right when he needed it.

A month post-op, Dan is doing well and back to enjoying the things he loves during his retirement, including playing the harmonica in the Grumpy Old Man Band, exploring the northern Nevada backroads in his jeep and working on his swing at the golf course. Dan can rest assured that while enjoying the winds of life, if his heart begins to beat too slowly again, the pacemaker will send a signal to correct the beat. “The prompt attention to my heart block undoubtedly saved my life,” said Dan in what he calls his 6-star review of Renown Health. “Thank you from the bottom of my heart, which is happily beating at 60 beats per minute.”

This article is not sponsored by or affiliated with Apple, Inc. For more information on the Apple Watch and it's features, visit
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