Apple Watch saved his life, says CNET diabetic videographer

CBS Senior video producer and diabetic Justin Eastzer says a combination of a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) and his Apple Watch saved his life.

CGM detected dangerously low blood sugar, and his Apple Watch woke him up with an alert, just in time…

The Apple Watch saved the life of a videographer

Eastzer describes What happened.

I have type 1 diabetes and I wear a continuous glucometer (CGM) which measures my blood sugar. If my blood sugar gets dangerously low, I may pass out or fall into a diabetic coma. Fortunately, my CGM connects to my watch and sends notifications before it’s too late. This feature saved my life a few months ago.

I woke up to a dangerously low blood sugar warning on my Apple Watch. I ran to the fridge, got some orange juice, drank it and passed out.

I woke up a few minutes later as my sugar level returned to normal. It was one of the scariest times of my life, and thanks to alerts from my Apple Watch, I was able to remedy the hypoglycemia before it was too late.

Unlike conventional glucometers, which rely on the user taking blood drop samples at regular intervals, a CGM attaches to the skin and is left in place to take continuous readings. This data is sent to a companion app on a smartphone or smartwatch, and can be triggered to sound an alarm if the reading is too high or too low.

Apple is working on built-in surveillance

Currently, CGM relies on a separate device, but one of the more persistent Apple Watch reports is that Apple is working on a way to integrate this functionality into the watch itself.

Specifically, the company is reportedly working on a way to do this non-invasively, meaning without needing to pierce the skin. It has been described as the holy grail for diabetics.

Apple is said to have been working on this since 2012. According to a 2017 report:

Such an initiative was first imagined by Steve Jobs and Apple has been working on it for five years. Jobs imagined the solution would be built into a wearable device, like the Apple Watch […]

The report, citing three people familiar with the matter, explains that Apple has hired a “small team” of biomedical engineers to work on the initiative. The team would be based in an unmarked, nondescript office in Palo Alto, California.

The initiative sees Apple working on developing sensors that can continuously monitor blood sugar levels to better treat diabetes. While exact timing information is unclear, the company is said to be far enough along in its testing to conduct feasibility trials.

If you’re wondering why we still haven’t seen this come to market a decade later, it’s because this stuff is tough – really hard.

Accurately detect glucose levels [non-invasively] was such a challenge that one of the top experts in the field, John L. Smith, described it as “the most difficult technical challenge I have encountered in my career”.

To succeed would cost a company “several hundred million or even a billion dollars”, DexCom executive chairman Terrance Gregg previously told Reuters.

A report in Nature last year suggested a potential alternative approach. This would require a separate product, but it would be a batteryless transceiver that could be left permanently on the skin, while an Apple Watch provides wireless power. We’ve put together concept images of what it might look like on the watch.

There have been numerous reports of someone’s Apple Watch saving his life in a wide range of scenarios. These range from aFib detection to emergency alerts after a fall to allowing trapped people to use Siri to call emergency services.

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