The long-awaited Apple Watch ECG feature is finally available in Australia, letting wearers check their heart for potential irregularities.
Apple’s health-focused smartwatch could already monitor heart rate and blood oxygen levels. Now with TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration) appproval, Apple Watch Series 4, 5 and 6 owners can conduct electrocardiogram heart scans. The new functionality comes courtesy of the WatchOS 7.4 update, released as part of the iOS 14.5 rollout.
Apple Watch ECG means owners can perform a ‘one-lead’ ECG by placing a finger from their opposite hand on the digital crown. This creates a closed circuit. Medical-grade ECG machines offer more detailed readings by attaching multiple leads to the body.
Along with performing ECG scans, wearers can also set the watch to assess their cardio fitness levels. This includes notifications of atrial fibrillation, a form of irregular heart rhythm. It is a common cause of blood clots that can lead to a stroke.
The watch can also warn wearers when their heart rate goes above or below a certain threshold.
Apple Watch ECG is no substitute for medical attention
Apple emphasises that these heart-related health features are no substitute for medical attention. The Apple Watch is not a medical-grade device. The ECG feature is not for use by people under 22 years old.
Apple stresses that the smartwatch will not recognise a heart attack. Nor can it detect other heart-related conditions such as high blood pressure, congestive heart failure or other forms of arrhythmia.
In Australia, the Apple Watch follows the Withings ScanWatch as the second smartwatch to enable ECG features. They required approval by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
Apple introduced ECG features in the US in 2018 with the Apple Watch Series 4. Other ECG-enabled smartwatches approved by the US Food and Drug Administration include Withings’ ScanWatch and Move, Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 3 and Active 2, and the Fitbit Sense.