Apple Watch alerts Franklin woman to irregular heartbeat

FRANKLIN, MASS. (WHDH) - A Franklin woman is crediting the Apple Watch she received as a gift from her daughter with helping to save her life when it detected her irregular heartbeat last week.

Phyllis Vozzella’s daughter, Jennifer Onderdonk, says she bought the watch because she was concerned about her mother’s heart rate.

So when she got a call from her mom last Monday after the Apple Watch sent an alert about her heartbeat, she sought immediate care.

“I’m a nurse and I didn’t like the symptoms she was having,” Onderdonk recalled. “I thought, ‘Let’s not wait until tomorrow. Let’s go right up to the hospital to be checked.”

Vozzella was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, a common type of irregular heartbeat, which the Centers for Disease Control says contributes to an estimated 130,000 deaths in the U.S. every year.

“I feel safer now because it saved me. It really did,” Vozzella said. “I couldn’t believe it.”

Her experience comes as Apple and Stanford University released preliminary findings from an Apple Watch heart study that found that of the 400,000 participants, roughly 2,000 received irregular heartbeat notifications.

More than 660 of those who followed up with medical attention were diagnosed with atrial fibrillation.

And while more studying needs to be done, Vozzella said she’ll be forever grateful for the advance warning.

“I mean, it’s saved me, (so) if I can save someone else, why not,” she said.

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