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What does the EKG app do on my Apple Watch?



A person taking an EKG with the Apple Watch.
DenPhotos / Shutterstock.com

The EKG app on your Apple Watch is an electrocardiogram (EKG or EKG), similar to what you would find in a doctor̵

7;s office. You can use it to track certain aspects of your heart health. Here’s What You Should Know.

What the EKG app does (and what it doesn’t)

With the EKG app you can monitor:

  • your exact heart rate at the moment. The optical sensor that your watch uses during the day is more convenient and can track your heart rate while you’re exercising, but it can be a bit fussy.
  • whether you currently have a specific health condition called atrial fibrillation (AFib) where your heart beats with an irregular rhythm.

And that’s it.

Warning: The EKG app cannot detect heart attacks. If you experience any of its symptoms, don’t open the EKG app: call your doctor immediately. It also cannot detect strokes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or even other types of irregular heart rhythms.

The EKG app is an undeniably cool feature. You can share the results with doctors, which suggests it could hold promise for telemedicine. However, the app is not a substitute for good medical advice. It can be useful to detect a single specific, intermittent condition, but it is not a general health check.

RELATED: How to share an EKG from your Apple Watch with your doctor

Which Apple Watch models have the EKG app?

The Apple Watch Series 4, Series 5 and Series 6 have the EKG app. The Apple Watch SE doesn’t.

How do I use the ECG app?

image of Apple Watch ECG in use
Apple

Open the EKG app on your Apple Watch. Rest your hands on a table or on your legs, touch the Digital Crown with your finger and follow the on-screen instructions to wait 30 seconds.

At the end you will see the results. Possible results include:

  • Sinus rhythm: Your heart is beating normally and your heart rate is between 50 and 100 beats per minute. However, if you feel ill, still contact your doctor.
  • Atrial fibrillation (or AFib): This is the health condition that the EKG is designed to detect. Your heart beats with an irregular rhythm. Contact your doctor.
  • Low heart rate or high heart rate: Your heart rate is faster than 150 bpm (or 120 bpm with ECG app version 1) or slower than 50 bpm, so more specific results cannot be given. Contact your doctor if you have any concerns.
  • Inconclusive: The results cannot be determined. You can see this if you have a heart condition that the app cannot detect, if you use a pacemaker, or (with ECG app version 1) if your heart rate is between 100 and 120 beats per minute and you don’t have AFib. Contact your doctor if you have any concerns.
  • Bad recording: The results cannot be determined. Make sure your Apple Watch fits correctly and your arms are resting on something stable and try again.

Why can’t I find the EKG app?

The ECG app is not available in all areas due to different medical device approval processes. For example, the FDA approved the ECG app in the US three years ago, while the Australian equivalent is expected to approve it in early 2021.

You can view a full list of areas where the EKG app is available here.

If you’re somewhere where the EKG app is available but still can’t see it, you may need to set it up.

Update your Apple Watch and your iPhone to the latest versions of watchOS and iOS. Then open the ‘Health’ app on your iPhone and tap ‘Set up EKG app’.

ECG display
Apple

If you don’t see that option, go to “Browse”> “Heart”> “Electrocardiograms (EKG)”, then tap “Set Up EKG App” and follow the installation instructions.

health app with heart markedhealth app marked with ecg




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