Apple Watch alerted him to heart problem

Mr Farhat Haniff, a 30-year-old Malaysian restaurateur and freelance architect based in Kuala Lumpur, bought an Apple Watch Series 4 because its design caught his eye.

But the smartwatch might have saved his life.

On a flight back home from Langkawi in August last year, Mr Farhat’s watch alerted him to an elevated heart rate.

As it had been a rather rough flight, he did not think much about it.

By default, the Apple Watch alerts users if their heart rate goes above 120 beats per minute when they are not exercising.

However, the alerts kept up after Mr Farhat had landed. His smartwatch would beep while he was watching TV and resting at home, even after he had reset the device.

“I thought it was a glitch, but I continued to receive (the alerts), so I decided to see a doctor,” he told The Straits Times in an e-mail interview.

Four days after that first alert, Mr Farhat went to a clinic and was referred to a hospital.

Following a series of procedures that included electrocardiogram (ECG) and blood tests, he was diagnosed with ectopic rhythm – an irregular heart rhythm due to a premature heartbeat.

“I was initially shocked and in disbelief… as I am young and quite healthy,” he said.

This is not the first time that the Apple Watch, especially the Series 4 and 5 models, has been credited with potentially saving lives.

The Apple Watch Series 4’s electrocardiogram feature can measure the rate and rhythm of a user’s heartbeat. PHOTO: APPLE

The two models have a unique ECG measuring function that takes heart-rate monitoring a step further.

In August last year, Fox News reported on a woman from Alabama who found out she had atrial fibrillation – an irregular heartbeat that can lead to blood clots, stroke or heart failure – through the ECG feature.

She had open heart surgery and has been recovering well.

While Mr Farhat’s condition typically goes away without intervention, a person with ectopic rhythm can sometimes develop ventricular tachycardia – rapid and irregular heartbeat – and other heart problems.

“I don’t think (ectopic rhythm) is curable, but it can be managed through living a healthy lifestyle,” said Mr Farhat.

He has since stopped taking caffeine and started going to the gym, while being careful not to overexert himself.

He is thankful that his smartwatch has made him aware of his heart condition.

The ECG feature in the Apple Watch Series 4 and 5 is available only in certain places – including Singapore, Hong Kong, Europe and the United States – as it requires the approval of the local health authority to unlock. It is not available in Mr Farhat’s Apple Watch.