Apple releases ECG app and irregular rhythm notifications in Europe & Hong Kong
Apple has finally released the Series 4 Watch ECG app across Europe and in Hong Kong. Irregular rhythm notifications are also available in these regions from today.
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So far the ECG functionality has been limited to the US. This is because at launch Apple secured De Novo approval from the FDA, but did not get clearance from regulatory agencies in other countries.
Today’s announcement means 19 European countries plus Hong Kong can take an ECG reading with the Series 4 device. The functionality is part of a free update, which also enables irregular rhythm alerts.
ECG readings are on-demand. To take a measurement launch the ECG app and rest your finger against the digital crown. This creates a closed circuit between the digital crown and the sensor on the back. Built in electrodes will then work to detect electrical impulses from the heart. It takes about 30 seconds for the measurement to finish. All of this is captured and saved in the Health app on your phone.
The irregular rhythm notification feature uses the built-in optical heart sensor and works on Apple Watch Series 1 or later. This can also alert users to signs of AFib.
In atrial fibrillation, electrical conduction in the heart becomes disorganised. Causes are numerous, but it’s more common in people over 60.
The Apple Watch checks your pulse in the background at regular intervals. If an irregular rhythm is detected on five separate occasions over a minimum of 65 minutes, the user will be alerted.
You can turn on heart rate notifications when you first open the Heart Rate app on your Apple Watch. The alternative is to do it from the Apple Watch app on your iPhone. Simply move the sliding tap next to “Irregular Rhythm” to the on position. This is also where you can tweak the high and low heart rate alerts.
You’ll need to download iOS 12.2 to your watch in order to use the ECG app, otherwise watchOS 5.2 won’t show. Once that’s done, place your Apple Watch on its charger making sure its battery level is above 50%. Open the Watch app on your iPhone, select General/Software update, and than tap the Download and Install option to update.
“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’s chief operating officer.
“We are excited to bring these features to customers in Europe and Hong Kong, giving them access to empowering information about their heart health.”
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