Woman Says Smartwatch Saved Her Life After an Irregular Heartbeat Lead to Tumor Diagnosis

Kim Durkee's Apple Watch notified her of an irregular heartbeat, which doctors later determined was caused by a tumor in her heart

Kim Durkee's Apple Watch saved her life
Photo: Courtesy Kim Durkee

A woman is thanking her Apple Watch after it detected that she had an irregular heartbeat — which doctors later determined was caused by a non-cancerous tumor.

Kim Durkee, 67, who lives in Solon, Maine, said the Apple Watch saved her life. "Had I not had the watch, I probably would have had a massive stroke," Durkee told Boston's WCVB.

"So, I'm very grateful to be alive," she continued. "So, without that watch, I might not be having this conversation with you right now."

Durkee began wearing the smartwatch two years ago in case she fell while hiking with her dog and needed assistance, she told TODAY.

In May the device started sending her notifications in the middle of the night. The message warned that she seemed to have an irregular heart beat, and may have atrial fibrillation, a rapid heartbeat that can increase risk of stroke and heart failure.

Initially, Durkee did not take the notification seriously. But after receiving it three nights in a row, she sought medical attention.

In early June she went to the local ER, where the on-duty doctor couldn't believe her situation.

"He looked at me, like, 'Really, your watch told you you have AFib?' Everybody in the hospital was amazed. I was like the talk of the hospital," she told TODAY.

"He did some tests and he said, 'Your watch is right, you're in AFib.' "

Doctors performed an echocardiogram and discovered that Durkee had a tumor in her heart. She was diagnosed with myxoma, a rare, rapidly growing, non-cancerous tumor in her left atrium, which, if left untreated, can block blood flow and lead to stroke or death.

A month after that ER visit Durkee had open heart surgery to remove the tumor at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and she is continuing to recover at home.

Kim Durkee's Apple Watch saved her life
Kim Durkee. Courtesy Kim Durkee

Durkee is not alone in crediting the Apple Watch for saving her life.

Last year running coach Brandon Schneider shared on social media that he initially went to the ER on July 12 after "days of increasingly excruciating abdominal pain and misdiagnoses of a kidney stone."

At one point during his visit, Schneider said he asked to use the restroom.

"While I was in the bathroom I went unconscious and fell to the ground, where I apparently slammed my head, fracturing my skull and suffering an emergent brain bleed," he explained.

Luckily, Schneider was wearing an Apple Watch at the time.

"I was only found unconscious so soon after the fall because my Apple Watch detected a hard fall, calling 911 and sent an emergency notification to my emergency contacts after I failed to respond to the prompt on my watch," he wrote in the post.

"I share my story, not for sympathy, but because I want to encourage every person who reads this to purchase an Apple Watch or if you have an Apple Watch to set up your emergency contacts," he told PEOPLE.

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