Apple watch saved Alberta man's life, makes international headlines

A Morinville, Alta., contractor who says his life was saved by a smart watch, is making headlines the world over.

'I bought the watch two weeks before the heart attack, so it was the right time'

Dennis Anselmo, a watch fanatic, shows off his life-saving Apple watch. (CBC)

A Morinville, Alta., contractor who says his life was saved by a smartwatch, is making headlines the world over.

Dennis Anselmo says the high-tech gadget warned him of an impending heart attack.

Now, six months since he was released from hospital, dozens of news outlets, including The Sun and The Daily Mirror in Great Britain, have picked up his story as an example of the merits of wearable technology

"The story is just spreading like wildfire," Anselmo said in an interview Thursday on CBC Radio's Edmonton AM. 

Last August, Anselmo was building a fence in Edmonton, placing heavy wood posts in the ground, when nausea set in.

"I just wasn't feeling right. I was hot and cold at the same time. I was jittery."

Anselmo thought it was little more than a case of the common flu.  But when the 62-year-old glanced down at his new Apple watch, he was shocked to see his heart rate was beating dangerously fast, at more than 210 beats per minute.

Anselmo realized he was in the midst of a heart attack.

Artery 70 per cent blocked

An ambulance was called and he was rushed to the Royal Alex where Anselmo learned that a main artery in his heart was nearly 70 per cent clogged.

"Everything happened really fast," he said. "They said it was very fortunate that I got in there when I did."

Doctors told Anselmo that had he ignored the warning signs, he would have suffered another, fatal heart attack within hours of the first.

"I feel very fortunate that I was wearing the watch and that it went as well as it did," said Anselmo. 

"I bought the watch two weeks before the heart attack, so it was the right time," he said.

"I'll be on medication for the rest of my life, but my heart's still ticking along. It's still doing its job."

As soon as he recovered from his medical emergency, Anselmo took to Apple's website to write a glowing review, but never heard back.

"And that kind of irked me, because I thought it was a good news story."

But months later, Anselmo was shopping for a replacement strap for his favourite watch in West Edmonton Mall, when he mentioned his story to a sales person at the Apple store.

'Story is everywhere'

Within a few weeks, Anselmo was getting calls from reporters in New York, the United Kingdom and China.

"The story is everywhere. It's really surprised me, but it's exciting," said Anselmo who admits he's a watch fanatic.

In fact. his new favourite almost didn't make the collection.

He's amassed more than 35 high-end watches, so when he wanted to buy another,  his wife Mary scoffed at the prospect.

She wasn't pleased with the $1,550 price tag, but Anselmo couldn't resist all the stainless steel and leather.

"My wife didn't want me to spend that kind of money. This wasn't a cheap purchase," Anselmo said, laughing.

But it's fair to say his wife has changed her tune on Anselmo's collection.

"It saved my life so on that particular purchase, she's glad I bought it."

Anselmo hopes the watch has set a precedent with his wife for other purchases which might put her out of favour with him.

"I've been telling her that I'm looking for a Corvette with life-saving features."


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