A Woman's Apple Watch Health Tracker Helped Her Detect A Life-Threatening Disorder

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A teenager in the Tampa Bay, Florida, area credits her Apple Watch health tracking app for helping detect a life-threatening disorder, CBS News reported. Deanna Recktenwald's wearable alerted her that her resting heart rate was over 190 beats per minute while she was sitting in church — way higher than what it should be.

“I didn’t know what was going on at all and it was just out of the blue,” Deanna told WFTS Tampa Bay News. Stacey Recktenwald, Deanna’s mother, said she was previously unaware that the watch "had the capability of giving us that alert.” And that "it was alarming that the watch was telling us to seek medical attention," according to WFTS.

Even if she’d been exercising or otherwise exerting herself, 190 is nearly double the upper limit for the average resting heart rate, according to LiveScience — and since the teen was simply sitting in a pew attending morning service, her mother knew to take immediate action.

According to CBS, Deanna’s mother rushed her to a nearby urgent care center, and when medical staff checked the teen’s stats, they discovered her blood pressure was 150 over 99. Concerned about her high blood pressure, urgent care staff sent Deanna to the emergency room at Tampa Bay General Hospital, where, after further testing, doctors discovered that Deanna suffers from Alport syndrome, a genetic condition that causes progressive kidney failure, CBS News further reports. “They did all sorts of labs and an EKG, but what they ended up coming back with was more than just a heart problem,” Deanna’s mother told CBS. “She was in kidney failure. Her kidneys were only working at about 20 percent and we had no idea that they were failing.”

Fortunately, Deanna’s Apple Watch alerted her to seek medical attention before emergency surgery was necessary, but doctors say that the teen will still likely need a kidney transplant within the next five years or so, according to CBS. Alport syndrome is a genetic and chronic condition that progressively damages the tiny blood vessels in the kidneys, the National Kidney Foundation says, and it can lead to kidney disease and kidney failure — the condition also sometimes causes hearing loss and eye damage. Alport syndrome causes kidney damage by attacking the glomeruli, or tiny filtering units, inside the kidneys. Deanna’s father, Tom Recktenwald, told CBS that the entire family is currently getting tested to see who might be a potential donor for Deanna’s future transplant.

According to WFTS Tampa Bay, Deanna received the life-saving high-tech wearable as a Christmas gift, and, not a moment too soon, it uncovered a major health problem that could have otherwise gone unnoticed. “Now that we have some answers to why this is happening we can prevent something major from happening down the road,” Deanna told WFTS. Deanna’s dad told CBS that since his daughter is starting college next fall, he’s “so thankful she had that watch on,” and that she won’t be leaving home unaware of “this underlying condition.”

According to CBS, Deanna's mother sent an email to Apple thanking them for the device’s role in helping save her daughter’s life — and heard back from Apple CEO, Tim Cook. Deanna’s dad told CBS that the family was “amazed,” and that they “really didn’t think we were going to get any email back, let alone an email from the CEO of the company.”

But Cook was also moved by the impact of Deanna’s experience, and posted on Twitter that “stories like Deanna’s inspire us to dream bigger and push harder every day.” And with potentially life-saving technology available as close as your wrist, the capabilities of your Apple Watch are nothing less than extraordinary.