For years, Apple Watches have been equipped to notify users of low VO2 Max levels. These alerts also extend to signaling when intervention might be needed. Now, researchers posit that these notifications can play a pivotal role in detecting heart issues at an earlier stage than previously presumed.
In a noteworthy instance, a seemingly healthy 40-year-old male received low VO2 Max notifications via his Apple Watch. Subsequently, a series of tests were conducted, revealing a diagnosis of familial nonischemic cardiomyopathy accompanied by severely diminished left ventricular systolic function. This condition has the potential to escalate into heart failure, and it is plausible that the early detection of this ailment was facilitated by the low VO2 Max alerts from his Apple Watch Series 6.
The Shackler School of Medicine at Tel-Aviv and the Leviev Heart Center in Israel jointly published their findings in a research note in the Interactive Journal of Medical Research. The researchers noted that familial dilated cardiomyopathy ensues when heart muscles in at least one chamber of the heart become thin and feeble, resulting in the expansion of the chamber’s open space (dilation). This compromise in heart function leads to reduced blood-pumping efficiency. In an attempt to compensate, the heart endeavors to increase blood circulation, which further exacerbates the thinning and weakening of the cardiac muscle.
However, manifestations of this condition may remain latent for years, complicating early diagnosis. If Apple Watches, with their VO2 Max notifications, can contribute to timely identification, the potential to assist a greater number of individuals in the future becomes feasible.
It is worth noting that access to these alerts is not limited to the latest Apple Watch models. The functionality extends to the Apple Watch Series 3 and subsequent iterations.
Nonetheless, the researchers caution that this specific case may be an isolated incident, necessitating further investigation before Apple could contemplate seeking FDA approval for utilizing Apple Watches in this capacity.