Apple Watch’s amazing ECG app arrives today

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Apple Watch ECG
And it might just save your life!
Photo: Apple

The long-awaited ECG app is almost available on Apple Watch Series 4 (if you live in the U.S.) with watchOS 5.1.2.

It is the first wearable of its kind to offer this functionality, which promises to help uses detect atrial fibrillation — the most common form or irregular rhythm. Irregular heart rhythm notifications have also landed on Series 1 devices and later.

The ability to take ECGs anytime, anywhere is one of the main selling points of Apple Watch Series 4 — and by far its biggest advantage over rival smartwatches. Now, almost three months after the device made its debut, the ECG app is finally available.

Apple expects it to change (and save) lives.

Apple Watch 4 just got a massive upgrade

ECG functionality is enabled by electrodes baked into Apple Watch’s back crystal and Digital Crown. When a user places their fingertip on the latter, it forms a circuit that allows the Watch to read their heart’s rhythm in just 30 seconds.

The reading will show you whether you have a normal sinus rhythm, or if there are signs of atrial fibrillation (AFib). AFib, if left untreated, is one of the leading conditions that can result in stroke, the second-most common cause of death around the world, Apple explains.

It is estimated that AFib can affect up to two percent of the younger population and nine percent of those aged 65 and older in the U.S. With Apple Watch, AFib can be easily identified — and recognizing it could save your life.

Look out for irregular rhythm notifications

Because the ECG app requires new hardware, it isn’t available on older Apple Watch models. However, Series 1 and up will offer irregular heart rhythm notifications by checking your rhythm in the background and alerting you if signs of AFib are identified.

“We are confident in the ability of these features to help users have more informed conversations with their physicians,” said Sumbul Desai, MD, Apple’s vice president of Health. “With the ECG app and irregular rhythm notification feature, customers can now better understand aspects of their heart health in a more meaningful way.”

A thumbs-up from the FDA

Both the ECG app and irregular heart rhythm notifications have received the De Novo classification from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the U.S. Apple says it has been working for a number of years to obtain this, and no other smartwatch offers the same.

All heart data is securely stored inside the Health app and available only to you. But if you want to share it with your physician, Apple makes it easy to export it all into a PDF.

To enjoy these features on your Apple Watch, upgrade to watchOS 5.1.2 later today.