An upcoming senior football player in high school could have died from a kidney problem. Luckily, his Apple Watch detected the signs of the disease early.
Three days before Paul Houle Jr. returned to Tabor Academy to begin his season training, he purchased an Apple Watch, which features a heart-rate monitor.
According to mobile phone companies, while heart-rate monitors in smartphones are not substitutes for clinical heart-rate monitors, the app can display rates close to the actual medical results.
Houle tried the heart-rate monitor app on his gadget while he was still at home. His regular rates were less than 70 beats per minute.
Upon returning to the campus, the 17-year-old teen's training begun. Their team practiced from 10 AM until noon. They had another round from three to five in the afternoon. During the second practice, Houle had breathing problems and back pains. His heart-rate reached 145.
The result is expected, given his rigorous physical activity. In the standards of American Heart Association, a person's maximum heart rate during exercise is about 220 minus his age. However, three hours later, Houle's heart beats per minute remained at 145.
After the practices, Houle headed to his dorm to nap until 7:30. He woke up for a meeting for athletes, during which he casually mentioned the odd reading of his heart-rate to his head trainer Brian Torres.
Thinking that the high-end device was malfunctioning, the trainer took the athlete's heart rate manually. To his astonishment, he arrived at 145 beats per minute.
Torres rushed his footballer to the academy's heart center where nurse Elizabeth West concluded that both Houle's heart rate and blood pressure were abnormally high. She phoned Houle's father, Paul Houle, MD, a neurosurgeon at Cape Cod Healthcare. Upon the neurosurgeon's consent, the younger Houle was rushed by West to the hospital. His heart-rate was monitored on the way.
Craig Cornwall MD of Cape Cod Hospital explained that the patient suffered from Rhabdomyolysis, a muscle injury. The syndrome is frequent but usually mild. The footballer's case was unusual.
However, Cornwall, who treated the teen at the emergency room assured that the case is more common in athletes, especially for those who stress their muscles too much. In this case, the two practices on a hot day, worsened by dehydration, broke down the player's muscle tissue. These lead to the release of a muscle protein called myoglobin into the blood stream. Myoglobin causes urine to become concentrated.
Rhabdomyolysis may result to kidney and other complications. In the most unfortunate cases, a muscle will die, which can result to amputation, or worse, death.
For three days, Houle was barely moving at the hospital. One week following the incident, Houle is still unable to return to his football routine.
Meanwhile, the case is not the first time Apple Watch contributed to people's safety. Last month, a Tennessee teen trapped under his car reached 911 upon activating digital assistant Siri on the iPhone in his pocket.
Smartphone technology is finally gearing away from fad and focusing more on health and utility. Apart from emergency cases, the heart-rate monitor, found in Apple and Samsung products, is a useful daily exercise and health tool