Apple Watch helps save teen athlete's life

MARION, Mass. - A high school football player in Massachusetts credits his new Apple Watch with helping to save his life.

Paul Houle, 17, a senior nose tackle on Tabor Academy's football team, said he had just finished practice last week when he began to feel pain in his back and chest.

"My Apple Watch, which I bought three days earlier, I tested my heart rate on it. It was about 145 for about two hours after the practice had ended," he told CBS Boston.

0921healthapplewatchteenathlete1.jpg
Paul Houle's Apple Watch spotted hisrapid heartbeat after football practice. WBZ-TV

He immediately contacted his trainer, who checked his heart rate manually and then rushed him to the hospital.

Houle was diagnosed with a condition called rhabdomyolysis, or rhabdo for short. Rhabdomyolosis can occur when intense exercise causes muscle cells to leak enzymes and protein into the blood. In severe cases, it can lead to kidney failure and even death.

"I was so dehydrated that my muscles started to actually break down and release a protein that is sort of toxic into my blood stream which caused my heart, my liver and my kidneys all to shut down," Houle said.

"I'm grateful to Apple. I'm grateful to the school because the trainers and the nurses, everybody really just jumped on it," his dad, Dr. Paul Houle, told CBS Boston.

Word of the Apple Watch's role in the case got back to company headquarters, and Paul Houle got a surprise phone call from Apple CEO Tim Cook. Houle says Cook offered him a new iPhone and an internship next summer at Apple.

Houle's recovery will force him to miss part of the football season, but he's just thankful to be alive. His lesson from all of this?

"Drink lots of water and also listen to your body and seek help if something is wrong," he said.