The health and fitness applications of Apple Watch have been built into the device from the start. Combining the capabilities of wearable activity monitors and sports watches, Apple Watch was designed with the user’s wellness in mind. What is new however, is the growing reality that Apple Watch may be more than a mere fitness companion: it could save your life. This Apple Watch Developer will tell you how:

In September of 2015, Paul Houle Jr., a teenager from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, experienced some unusual back and chest pain during football practice. Upon checking his Apple Watch, Paul saw that his heart rate was measuring twice the rate it was supposed to be. The teen immediately sought help and was taken to the ER, where doctors diagnosed Paul with rhabdomyolysis, a condition in which muscle tissue breaks down and can potentially cause severe kidney damage. Paul and his father both credit Apple Watch with playing a critical role in alerting the teen of a potentially life-threatening condition.

With the aid of an impressive roster of scientists, Apple developed an exceptionally accurate heart rate wrist sensor that uses LED light and infrared technology to measure your pulse. This is the feature that notified Paul Houle of his abnormally elevated heart rate and is what really sets the Apple Watch apart from other wearable fitness devices. The advanced wrist sensor enhances the accuracy and overall benefit of all the Apple Watch apps, ensuring that the user receives detailed and specific information about their basic health vitals.

The Apple Watch heart rate sensor marks just the beginning of Apple’s mission to develop the product into a health device with many capabilities. As stated by Apple COO Jeff Williams, “Apple Watch marks the end of single-function wrist devices in the same way the iPhone marked the end of single-function cell phones.”

In March 2016, mobile health company AliveCor announced their new Kardia™ Band for Apple Watch, the first medical-grade EKG band for the device. Used in conjunction with the new Kardia app, the band allows users to record their EKG anywhere, anytime, while an Atrial Fibrillation (AF) detector alerts users to any AF in their EKG (an irregular heartbeat indicative of cardiac arrhythmia, a leading cause of stroke).

With new technology such as the Kardia™ Band emerging on Apple’s mobile health marketplace, Apple Watch has emerged as a leading figure in proactive heart health. The company’s aspirations to revolutionize our health has become a decided reality, promising consumers a breakthrough in new ways that the Apple Watch can, potentially, save their lives.