Apple Watch ECG finally makes it to the heart of Europe

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The ECG feature of the Apple Watch Series 4 isn’t just for Americans any more.
The ECG feature of the Apple Watch Series 4 isn’t just for Americans any more.
Photo: Apple

After debuting in the United States last fall, the Apple Watch Series 4 electrocardiogram (ECG) feature is available to Europeans, at last.

The ability to monitor the electrical activity of the wearer’s heart just debuted in 20 additional countries, and only requires upgrading to watchOS 5.2.

“We’ve seen the ECG app and irregular rhythm notifications on Apple Watch have meaningful impact on our customers across the United States,” said Jeff Williams, Apple COO, in a statement. “We are excited to bring these features to customers in Europe and Hong Kong, giving them access to empowering information about their heart health.”

Checking your heart

ECG functionality is enabled by electrodes in the 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 irregular rhythm notification feature occasionally checks heart rhythm in the background and sends a notification if it’s irregular enough that atrial fibrillation (AFib) is possible.

And that’s the primary benefit of the Apple Watch ECG: atrial fibrillation (AFib) is the most common form or irregular heart rhythm. The problem, which often goes undetected, brings an increased risk of heart failure and stroke. Many Americans have already had their AFib diagnosed by Apple’s wearable.

Apple Watch ECG across Europe, elsewhere

After received clearance from the FDA last year,  the ECG app and irregular rhythm notification are now CE marked and cleared in the European Economic Area.

It’s available in 19 European countries, including France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom. As noted, the feature was also just introduced in Hong Kong.

This feature requires hardware that’s only built into the Apple Watch Series 4 that was introduced in fall of 2018. It isn’t available on earlier versions of this wearable.