When it was first put onto the market in 2014, the Apple Watch was not all that focused on tracking health and wellness.
It was more about wearing your apps on your wrist – in a fashionable way at that.
Just a few short years later, we now have Apple Watches built with biometrics integrated into them.
These features can do everything from check your blood pressure to monitoring your sleep patterns.
There is even an alarm that will go off if the system notes an irregular rhythm in your heartbeat.
One feature many consumers are looking for is the ability to take an electrocardiogram (commonly abbreviated ECG or EKG).
Are you asking yourself, “Does Apple Watch 3 have EKG?” If that is the watch you own, then sorry, you’re out of luck.
Which Apple Watch Has EKG?
The Apple Watch 4 and newer all have the EKG (or ECG) feature included on them. The Apple Watch 3 Series and earlier do not have this handy little function. They do all alert you to arrhythmias though.
The Apple Watch 4 Series and later are the ones equipped with an electrical heart rate sensor that, combined with the ECG app, lets you to take an electrocardiogram (or ECG).
ECG functioning first came out on the Apple Watch 4 back in 2018.
Even on an older model, you can still use the irregular rhythm notification function.
This lets you know about your heart rhythms, displayed in the background every two hours.
And, as already stated, it will send you a notification if an irregular heart rhythm is detected.
But the ECG is indeed only to be found on the 4 Series and newer.
It has become a staple for Apple Watch users and their doctors too.
So, just what is an EKG/ECG, and why is it something you should be tracking on your Apple Watch?
How do you go about recording one on the ECG app?
Let’s go over that, as well as how to interpret your results and whether this app is as accurate as the EKG machine at your doctor’s office.
What is an EKG/ECG anyway?
Quite simply put, an electrocardiogram records the signals made in your heart.
Doctors, med centers, and hospitals all have EKG machines in their offices, and they attach electrodes to your chest for monitored readings.
Those EKGs are painless and are helpful for detecting arrhythmias, how well heart disease treatments (like a pacemaker) are working, whether you’ve previously experienced a heart attack, and whether a chest pain or heart attack is being caused by narrowed or blocked arteries in or around the heart.
In other words, an EKG machine is used both as a preventative measure and a diagnostics tool for issues involving the heart.
How to set up the Apple Watch ECG app
It is fairly easy to set up the ECG app on an Apple Watch. Obviously, you are going to need the iOS 12.2 and WatchOS 5.2 and the Health app on it.
First, open up the Health app. Double-check to see that you are running iOS 12.2 or later and WatchOS 5.2 or later on your Apple Watch.
If you’re all good to go there, simply access the ECG feature in the Health app located on your iPhone.
Is this your first time setting it up? If so, then you should see a prompt asking you to set the app up.
Don’t see it? Then go to Health Data > Heart > Electrocardiogram (ECG).
This quick and easy setup only asks for the most basic of details – like age.
And, honestly, that is only because performing an ECG on anyone under the age of 22 isn’t recommended at all.
After you get the app set up, go ahead and open the Apple Watch ECG app to begin taking your first EKG.
How to take an ECG on the Apple Watch
Now that you are ready to take an ECG on your Apple Watch, here’s what you need to do:
- Open ECG app on Apple Watch Series 4, 5 or 6.
- Press your index finger on the Digital Crown.
- Wait for 30 seconds.
You are now able to take an ECG – any time, anywhere.
This might just cut back on your need to call the doctor and ask them about getting an EKG done, although if you’re being alerted to multiple arrhythmias, you might want to schedule an appointment and take your Apple Watch ECG results with you to back up your concerns.
You can easily open the ECG app on your Apple Watch, relax your arm on something to stabilize your movements and keep your finger held on the Digital Crown for 30 seconds.
It is not necessary to press down on the Digital Crown, but your finger needs to be touching that part of the screen.
The important thing is that you make a fully looped connection for the app to accurately monitor what’s going on in your heart.
During the 30 seconds it takes to do the test, you should see a digitalized representation of your heart rate on the screen.
When the process is complete, the Apple Watch will instantly display your results, and it will let you record the way you were feeling during those 30 seconds.
You will also get a notification on your iPhone that includes a direct link to the results so you go over your details or share them with your doctor.
How do I interpret my results on the Apple Watch?
You’ll get readings for sinus arrhythmias (which are pretty normal), atrial fibrillation (which means that an irregular pattern was detected), a low or high heart rate, or an inconclusive result.
Atrial fibrillation (A-fib) is a serious condition that should not be ignored.
This irregular and rapid heartbeat can potentially lead to blood clots in the heart and increases your risk of stroke, heart attack, and other heart complications.
These events can come and go or be downright persistent.
Is this ECG as good as what you get in a doctor’s office?
Now that you know which Apple Watch takes EKG, it is up to you to bring your results to your doctor.
No, they are probably not as accurate as those machines in your doctor’s office.
Unlike the standard 12-lead (referring to the number of electrodes attached by cords to your body) machine your doctor uses, this single-lead machine relies on integrated sensors.
By no means is it a replacement for your doctor’s tried-and-true EKG machine.
But it is a handy way to monitor your heart’s activities as you go about your day, especially if you know you have or are at risk for developing heart problems.
Are there any risks to using the ECG app?
If you have been previously diagnosed with A-Fib or are under the age of 22, it is not recommended that you get an EKG done – and certainly don’t use the app.
You also need to make sure you are sitting perfectly still for the app to do its job correctly, or else you’ll get slapped with an “inconclusive” result.
Don’t feel totally assured by healthy read-outs from the ECG app.
That’s really the biggest risk to using it.
The app isn’t designed to be totally accurate all the time; it serves more as a guide to how your heart is performing.
Any concerns you have about your heart should be addressed with your doctor, who would probably be interested in going over your app’s results with you.
The Apple Watch has added a lot of great features over the years, and the ECG app is certainly one of them.
Apple shifting its focus from fashion to fitness has really benefitted Apple Watch wearers.
While this app isn’t a sure-fire way to know how your ol’ ticker is tickin’, it can provide you with helpful insight that you can take to your next doctor’s appointment.
All in all, I consider this app to be a helpful one, and it clearly has its benefits for many people.