The ECG (electrocardiogram) app has finally landed in Canada for Apple Watch Series 4 users, to go with irregular rhythm notifications for Series 1 or later. Apple Watch Series 4 is redesigned to help you be even more active, healthy and connected. With a larger display, this watch has an electrical heart sensor. The watch also has a Walkie-Talkie, you can make phone calls and messages or stream Apple Music and Apple Podcasts. Also, get new ways to use Siri in this built-in cellular watch. The cost of this watch starts from $519 in Canada for 40mm and $559 for a 44 mm watch.
An electrocardiogram (also called an ECG or EKG) is a test that records the timing and strength of the electrical signals that make the heartbeat. By looking at an ECG, a doctor can gain insights into your heart rhythm and look for irregularities.
What can ECG app do?
The ECG app can record your heartbeat and rhythm using the electrical heart sensor on Apple Watch Series 4 and then check the recording for atrial fibrillation (AFib), a form of irregular rhythm.
The ECG app records an electrocardiogram which represents the electrical pulses that make your heartbeat. The ECG app checks these pulses to get your heart rate and see if the upper and lower chambers of your heart are in rhythm. If they’re out of rhythm, that could be AFib.
How to take ECG with ECG app?
With Apple Watch Series 4 model in Canada, you can now easily download the ECG app and also perform your first ECG. Follow the steps below on how to do it.
You need to first update your iPhone to iOS 12.4 by going to Settings > General > Software Update.
Once iOS 12.4 is installed, update your Apple Watch to watchOS 5.3. Launch the Watch app on iPhone and go to General > Software Update and install watchOS 5.3. You will require your Apple Watch Series 4 to be charging for the installation to proceed.
Now launch the Health app on iPhone and follow the setup instructions. You will be required to enter your birth date.
Health App consolidates health data from iPhone, Apple Watch and third-party apps you already use, so you can view all your progress in one convenient place.
- Open the Health app on your iPhone.
- Follow the onscreen steps. If you don’t see a prompt to set up, tap Health Data > Heart > Electrocardiogram (ECG).
- After you complete set up, open the ECG app to take an ECG.
- Note that the ECG app is not intended for use by people under 22 years old.
Apple will explain what the ECG will do and what it cannot do, which is important to know before you begin
You’ll be asked to sit down and rest your arm.
Next, just touch the Digital Crown with your finger for 30 seconds and the ECG will be performed, and afterwards, a result will be shown of either Sinus Rhythm, AFib, or Inconclusive. Seriously, for those requiring frequent ECGs, this is too easy.
You can take an ECG at any time when you’re feeling symptoms such as a rapid or skipped heartbeat, when you have other general concerns about your heart health, or when you receive an irregular rhythm notification.
Make sure that your Apple Watch is snug and on the wrist that you selected in the Apple Watch app. To check, open the Apple Watch app, tap the My Watch tab, then go to General > Watch Orientation.
- Open the ECG app on your Apple Watch.
- Rest your arms on a table or in your lap.
- With the hand opposite your watch, hold your finger on the Digital Crown. You don’t need to press the Digital Crown during the session.
- Wait. The recording takes 30 seconds. At the end of the recording, you will receive a classification, then you can tap Add Symptoms and choose your symptoms.
- Tap Save to note any symptoms, then tap Done.
How to read results of your ECG?
After a successful reading, you will receive one of the following results on your ECG app. Regardless of the result, if you aren’t feeling well or are experiencing any symptoms, you should talk to your doctor.
- Sinus rhythm: A sinus rhythm result means the heart is beating in a uniform pattern between 50 and 100 BPM. This happens when the upper and lower chambers of the heart are beating in sync. A sinus rhythm result only applies to that particular recording and doesn’t mean your heart beats with a consistent pattern all the time. It also does not mean that you’re healthy. If you’re not feeling well or are feeling any symptoms, you should talk to your doctor.
- Atrial fibrillation: An AFib result means the heart is beating in an irregular pattern between 50 and 120 BPM. AFib is the most common form of serious arrhythmia, or irregular heart rhythm If you receive an AFib classification and you have not been diagnosed with AFib, you should talk to your doctor.
- Low or high heart rate: A heart rate under 50 BPM or over 120 BPM affects the ECG app’s ability to check for AFib, and the recording is considered inconclusive. A heart rate can be low because of certain medications or if electrical signals are not properly conducted through the heart. Training to be an elite athlete can also lead to a low heart rate. A high heart rate could be due to exercise, stress, nervousness, alcohol, dehydration, infection, AFib, or other arrhythmia.
- Inconclusive: An inconclusive result means the recording can’t be classified. This can happen for many reasons, such as not resting your arms on a table during a recording, or wearing your Apple Watch too loose.
You can easily share a PDF of your ECG within the Health app on your iPhone. Just head to ECG, tap your ECG report and hit the Share sheet icon.
What you should know before you use the ECG App?
- The ECG app cannot detect a heart attack. If you ever experience chest pain, pressure, tightness, or what you think is a heart attack, call emergency services immediately.
- The ECG app cannot detect blood clots or a stroke.
- The ECG app cannot detect other heart-related conditions. These include high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, high cholesterol, or other forms of arrhythmia.
- If you’re not feeling well or are feeling any symptoms, talk to your doctor or seek immediate medical attention.
How the ECG app works?
The ECG app on Apple Watch Series 4 generates an ECG that is similar to a single-lead (or Lead I) ECG. In a doctor’s office, a standard 12-lead ECG is usually taken. This 12-lead ECG records electrical signals from different angles in the heart to produce twelve different waveforms. The ECG app on Apple Watch measures a waveform similar to one of those twelve waveforms. A single-lead ECG is able to provide information about heart rate and heart rhythm and enables the classification of AFib. However, a single-lead ECG cannot be used to identify some other conditions, like heart attacks. Single-lead ECGs are often prescribed by doctors for people to wear at home or within the hospital so that the doctor can get a better look at the underlying rate and rhythm of the heart. However, the ECG app on Apple Watch Series 4 allows you to generate an ECG similar to a single-lead ECG without a prescription from your doctor.
In studies comparing the ECG app on Apple Watch to a standard 12-lead ECG taken at the same time, there was an agreement between the ECG app classification of the rhythm as sinus or AFib compared to the standard 12-lead ECG.
This is everything there is to know about the ECG app feature on the Apple Watch Series 4.