Apple Watch can save lives of those with breating problems

Discussion in 'Apple Watch' started by PracticalMac, Feb 25, 2016.

  1. PracticalMac macrumors 68030


    Jan 22, 2009
    Houston, TX
    After my father had surgery in June I was extra cautious about his Blood-Oxy level (SpO2).
    We have 2 inexpensive finger SpO2 meters that we check frequently when being active.

    I have looked often for a easy to ware or watch like system to read the SpO2 instead of the rather blocky meter, but the best I found was a watch with still a finger tip meter.

    As we know the Apple Watch has the hardware to measure SpO2, the photoplethysmography sensor used in SpO2 sensors, but AW does not produce a SpO2 readout (currently?).

    So the story:
    On New Years Day 2016 me and my wife visited my dad at his apartment, walked nearby to lunch, and then I drove us to see my mom (his wife) who was in rehab from her operation 2 weeks earlier. He seemed tired but his SpO2 was good (above 96). Still, we made the visit short and drove back to his apartment.
    Weather was cool and wet, kept him comfortable in car on ride.

    When we got home instead of dinner he deiced to go sleep so we walked him home (SpO2 96, OK), and went to eat.
    We came back for one last check before we left. SpO2 was 86 (!!!)

    I had him lay down and put his oxygen machine on him (use when needed). Occasional dips are normal for him, the portable O2 machine get him back up, but this time the reading remained around 86 SpO2.

    With no change after a couple of minuets I decided to take him to hospital. While low, this was NOT an emergency.
    He got dressed and I got the electric scooter to ride to car instead of walking, with the portable O2 machine pumping away.
    When he got in car I checked again: 78 SpO2 (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
    Instead of going a top quality hospital, I quickly drove him to closest (which does have very good ER).
    At the ER it was reading in low 70's (72? things got crazy), his nose and underside of saw was a deep bluish purple(!!!!).
    He had a virulent case of pneumonia and typical masks pushing 6 L/m of O2 was not enough, they put a ventilator tube down his air pipe and forced the O2 in.

    The good news is he recovered and is back home with his wife. Unfortunately his normal O2 level is high 80 to low 90's.

    What I discovered talking with ER docs was as the bodies O2 level decreases it shuts down capillaries to extremities and the finger type sensors above or the disposable soft fold tape on ones the hospital uses like the one below are not as accurate.

    Instead of taping the above on a finger, they stuck it on his forehead!
    Despite the sensor and LED light being about an inch apart, the monitor could read it just fine!
    (image for example, this one is made for forehead reading)

    So it is possible the Apple Watch could easily read SpO2.
    I would have purchased an Apple Watch on the spot (and new iPhone too) if it did. Last year the wrist type SpO2 cost over $200, they are now about $100 and up, so the AW would have been a good price.
    I am still ready to get AW the moment it has that feature!

    SpO2 on AW is good for more than elderly with diminished lung capacity.
    Mountain climbers and skiers need to be aware of O2
    Small plane pilots have to watch O2
    People who work around hazardous gasses can use it (like CO or excessive CO2 concentration)
    Add the activity here.

    I hope Apple will get the approval to make it happen soon, I am asking for it, money ready.
  2. ftlum macrumors regular

    Oct 24, 2011
  3. Armen macrumors 604


    Apr 30, 2013
    If I remember correctly the Apple watch hear rate sensor module also has a oxygen level sensor but it is not enabled (probably has something to do with a FDA hold up or something).
  4. SilentDoom macrumors member

    Oct 24, 2012
    Isn't it the other two sensors that don't light up?
  5. Ries macrumors 68020

    Apr 21, 2007
    From your link: "Actually, the current Apple watch employs green and infrared light sources. In order to measure blood oxygen saturation you require a red and infrared light source. Hence the current hardware is only able to measure heart rate but not the blood oxygen saturation level. Also, measurements of blood oxygen saturation using red and infrared light only are very susceptible to motion interference and perfusion levels at the wrist are low to begin with, making it even more difficult to accurately measure oxygen saturation at this particular site.
    There is advanced spectral sensing technology available that avoids such limitations and I am sure Apple is evaluating these for further generations of the Watch."

    Also it is not a medical device, entrusting your life on it would be stupid.
  6. PracticalMac thread starter macrumors 68030


    Jan 22, 2009
    Houston, TX
    I missed that part, but the features on future AW can be added.

    1. Adding Red and IR led is trivial
    2. Not everything needs complex FDA approval. According to their site, if the AW is not intended for medial use, it does not need to be vetted.
    3. AW and other HR monitors are only informative. If pulse is too high, go see a doctor. If SpO2 is too low, sit down and breath. If no better, go see a doctor.
    4. What makes a stand alone SpO2 meter with same certification as AW be any better?

    Remember, I saved my father because I used an SpO2 reader that was not a "medical device".
  7. Ries, Feb 27, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2016

    Ries macrumors 68020

    Apr 21, 2007
    Because it won't ever be certified. It won't produce reliable data on your wrist, thats why finger or ear tips are used. That recreational Sp02 apple watch could kill you, it could easily have been the other way around, it could claim everything is OK while it is not. Just look at the fitness review:

    "But on the flip side, as a fitness device – the Apple Watch isn’t terribly good at fitness. At least not by any objective measure. Not cost, not features, not accuracy, and not reliability."

    You want to trust a device that doesn't even get the pulse or running distance right?

    That upspirit device is certified or else you won't have been using it.

    For fitness it is a nice metric, but if your life depends on it, don't even think twice on relying on it. If you would react on the pulse monitoring of the apple watch, you would be in the ER weekly.
  8. BarracksSi Suspended


    Jul 14, 2015
    Exactly what Ries said. If it's not reliable enough for SpO2, an inaccurate reading has terrible consequences. It's not as trivial as just dropping the HR on a jog or an incorrect mileage estimate.
  9. DblHelix macrumors 6502

    Mar 19, 2009
  10. PracticalMac, Mar 1, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2016

    PracticalMac thread starter macrumors 68030


    Jan 22, 2009
    Houston, TX

    You miss the big picture, Ries,
    Certified devices are useless if its not regularly used.

    Current selection of SpO2 devices are not practical to keep on all the time.

    My fathers attack happened in the course of 1 to 2 hours.
    It just so happened I was checking his SpO2 that moment, because he rarely (if ever) does it himself.

    And it is a FACT that finger tip devices are not precise. I have seen the SpO2 give erroneous initial readings that improve over a few minutes.

    The FitBit Charge HR he has is also not 100% accurate too, I estimate about 95%.

    So the very fact the AW is not 100% actuate at all times is actually secondary to simply wearing it.
    The best health device in world is worthless if it is not being used.

    So what is more dangerous: an somewhat accurate device, or no device at all?

    (And if one device is abnormal, get another device to verify)

    PS: Thanks for that link, excellent analysis.
  11. Ries macrumors 68020

    Apr 21, 2007
    An somewhat accurate device is more dangerous, without doubt (you even say your self, use a certifed device to check the result anyway, so you gained nothing)! And no a certified device not always on is NOT USELESS. If you're depended on it, you have one on you and check if you feel wrong or monitor at given intervals.

    No the fitbit is also not accurate, but no sane person with a heart problem would use a fitbit or apple watch to monitor that issue, they would have a device that is tested and certfied to work good enough for the issue.
  12. PracticalMac thread starter macrumors 68030


    Jan 22, 2009
    Houston, TX
    Then show me a certified device I can get now that is comfortable to ware and can operate most of the day monitoring vitals.

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