Apple Watch saved his life, says diabetic CNET videographer

CNET: senior video producer and diabetic Justin Eastzer says that a combination of a continuous glucose monitor (GCM) and his Apple Watch saved his life.

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

Apple Watch saved life of videographer

Eastzer describes what happened.

I have type 1 diabetes and I wear a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) which measures my blood sugar levels. If my blood sugar gets dangerously low, I can pass out or into a diabetic coma. Luckily, 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, grabbed some orange juice, drank it and then passed out.

I woke up a few minutes later because my sugar levels went back to normal. That was one of the scariest moments of my life, and thanks to my Apple Watch alerts, I was able to address the low blood sugar before it was too late.

Unlike conventional glucose monitors, 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 working on built-in monitoring

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

Specifically, the company is said to be working on a way to do this non-invasively – that is, without the need to puncture the skin. This has been described as the holy grail for diabetics.

Apple is reported to have been working on this since 2012. From 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 being integrated into a wearable device, such as 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 is said to be based out of an unmarked, nondescript office in Palo Alto, California.

The initiative sees Apple working on developing sensors that can constantly monitor blood sugar levels to better treat diabetes. While specific timeline information is unclear, the company is reportedly far enough along in its testing that it has been conducting feasibility trials.

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

Accurately detecting glucose levels [non-invasively] has been such a challenge that one of the top experts in the space, 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 millions 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 this would be a battery-free transceiver that could be permanently left in place on the skin, while an Apple Watch provides wireless power. We put together concept images of how this might look on the watch.

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

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