Blake knew something abnormal was going on with his heart when he began experiencing discomforting, fluttering episodes for a few years. Blake sought out a consultation with cardiologist to try and understand what was happening.

Together, they decided that the best plan of action was to utilize a device to keep track of his heart rate over a period of time to determine what Blake was experiencing. Blake decided to purchase an Apple Watch®, which is equipped with a heart health feature, to monitor his heart rate while training for an international distance triathlon. Before the heart health feature was released on Apple Watch, most patients experiencing irregular heartbeats would track them through the Holter monitor. The Holter monitor is a wearable device placed over the chest that tracks the user’s heart rate and rhythm in their day to day lives. However, the monitor is a bulky device that isn’t practical for Blake’s busy life. The Apple Watch is lightweight and can provide on-demand monitoring with immediate results.

A few months after his purchase of the watch, it would buzz with the notification that he may be demonstrating atrial fibrillation (AFib). AFib results from multiple electrical impulses firing from both upper chambers of the heart. It causes the heart to beat fast, very irregularly, and with less efficiency when compared to normal rhythm. Symptoms include erratic heartbeat, fatigue, shortness of breath and exercise intolerance. AFib can be a permanent condition, but can occur at irregular intervals, and the episodes can occur frequently or rarely. They can last seconds, minutes, hours or days.

After the notification, Blake immediately went back to his cardiologist who then referred him to Dr. Mark Lee at MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute at Long Beach Medical Center. The MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute specializes in advanced, minimally invasive heart & vascular procedures for electrophysiology. Distinguished as a leading heart and vascular institute, MemorialCare offers personalized prevention programs, leading diagnostic screenings, advanced treatment, rehabilitation and leading-edge research.

However, since Blake was in Florida at the time, he was unable to come to Long Beach Medical Center to see Dr. Lee. Instead, he was put on medication with an attempt to regulate his heart rate. Unfortunately, the medication did not fully stop his AFib episodes, and he continued to have AFib episodes a couple times a week. Every episode was tracked with his iPhone and the EKG data was sent to Dr. Lee.

When Blake came back to California, he proceeded to have an atrial fibrillation ablation procedure performed by Dr. Lee at Long Beach Medical Center. Cardiac ablation is the recommended procedure for patients diagnosed with AFib when medication is unsuccessful. Cardiac ablation is a minimally invasive procedure that works by allowing a cardiac electrophysiologist to redirect the electrical signals in the heart. During this approach, a catheter is inserted to deliver energy and destroy a specific location in the heart that is producing the AFib signals.

Patients who are diagnosed with AFib can still experience episodes after an ablation, but Blake has only experienced one, short episode since the procedure. He continues to monitor his heart rate with his Apple Watch and is happy he no longer receives frequent alerts about AFib.