Hands-On With the ECG Feature for Apple Watch Series 4

Discussion in 'MacRumors.com News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Dec 6, 2018.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Apple today released the watchOS 5.1.2 update to the public, and the update implements a much-anticipated ECG feature for all Apple Watch Series 4 users in the United States.

    Following the launch of the new update, we installed the software and went hands-on with the ECG function to see just how it works.

    An ECG, or electrocardiogram, is designed to measure the electrical activity of the heart to detect abnormal rhythms and diagnose serious heart conditions.

    The Apple Watch Series 4 allows users to take a single-lead electrocardiogram to keep an eye on heart health. This isn't as informative or as sensitive as the multi-lead ECGs you might get in a doctor's office or hospital, which use several points of contact, but it provides valuable information for those who might not even be aware of a heart condition.

    The ECG feature in the Apple Watch uses electrodes built into the sapphire crystal of the Apple Watch (where the heart rate sensor is located) and the Digital Crown that work together to detect the electrical impulses from your heartbeat and route the data to the S4 processor in the device, where it is converted into a signal for Apple's algorithms.


    You can take an ECG using the built-in ECG app on the Apple Watch, which walks you through the steps. You'll need to place a finger on the Digital Crown of the Apple Watch and wait for approximately 30 seconds while the measurement is taken.


    You'll see a countdown on your wrist, which is designed to let you know just how long your finger needs to stay in place before you can move it.


    Following the conclusion of the ECG, Apple will provide a heart rhythm classification that can be shared with your doctor. If your heart is beating in a normal rhythm, Apple will let you know that a standard sinus rhythm has been detected. If your heart is not beating normally, however, the app will let you know that atrial fibrillation has been detected.

    If atrial fibrillation is detected, Apple will suggest that you get in touch with your doctor for further testing.

    All ECG results captured with the Apple Watch Series 4 are stored in the Health app in a format that's easy to export and share with your doctor.


    Apple has received de novo FDA clearance for the ECG feature in the Apple Watch Series 4, but FDA clearance is not the same as full FDA approval. The FDA does not recommend that the ECG feature be used by those under 22 or those who have already been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation.

    The Apple Watch Series 4's ECG function is not designed to replace traditional methods of diagnosis or treatment, and Apple intends for it to be used for informational purposes.

    At the current time, Apple Watch Series 4 owners in the United States are the only Apple Watch customers who can take an ECG because the feature needs regulatory approval to be made available in other countries. Apple is working to expand the feature to additional countries.

    While the ability to take an ECG is limited to Apple Watch Series 4 users, Apple is implementing a secondary feature designed to send Apple Watch Series 1, 2, 3, and 4 users a notification if an irregular heartbeat is detected via the normal heart rate sensor in the device.

    What do you think of the ECG option in the Apple Watch? Let us know in the comments.

    Article Link: Hands-On With the ECG Feature for Apple Watch Series 4
  2. ericgtr12 macrumors 65816


    Mar 19, 2015
  3. norrismantooth macrumors regular

    Nov 29, 2010
    Dallas, TX
    Will test and report back...

    Just purchased the AliveCor KardiaMobile because Apple was taking so long.

    I can compare the two, write reviews for both, and edit/upload to this comment.
  4. ericgtr12 macrumors 65816


    Mar 19, 2015
    I predict a 200% rise in calls to the doctor by tomorrow.
  5. SigurTom macrumors member


    Sep 23, 2015
    "Apple today released the watchOS 5.1.2 update to the public, and the update implements a much-anticipated ECG feature for all Apple Watch Series 4 users in the United States.
    For now, the ECG feature is available in a beta capacity to developers who have the watchOS 5.1.2 update installed. There is no watchOS public beta, so non-developers will need to wait until the official release of watchOS 5.1.2 to install the update. "

  6. iLoveDeveloping macrumors 6502

    Sep 24, 2009
    Can you scroll through the 30 seconds of ECG test strip? Or is it that tiny little section all you get?
  7. drumcat macrumors 6502a


    Feb 28, 2008
    Otautahi, Aotearoa
    Why is it America only, exactly? I mean, it's clear some in America have different hearts, but how different is this?
  8. mariusignorello macrumors 65816

    Jun 9, 2013
    Yes you can scroll through. Also, when you tap on the option to generate a PDF you can see the full tape.
  9. iamgalt macrumors regular


    Jul 25, 2012
    Read the full article. It clearly states that Apple has to get regulatory approval from other counties before it can be made available. Just like they had to get FDA Clearance here in the US.
  10. mariusignorello, Dec 6, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2018

    mariusignorello macrumors 65816

    Jun 9, 2013
    The backhanded comment was absolutely unnecessary.

    Edit: I made this comment in the morning. Not actually offended. But leave us Americans alone.
  11. hiroden macrumors regular

    Mar 14, 2012
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Waiting for Health Canada to approve apple watch ECG...
  12. TVreporter macrumors regular


    Mar 11, 2012
    Near Toronto
    So by 2030 given how slow they move
  13. Baymowe335 macrumors 68030

    Oct 6, 2017
    If that 98bpm is accurate, Dan might need to talk to his doctor about exercise.
  14. Solver, Dec 6, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2018

    Solver macrumors 6502a

    Jan 6, 2004
    Cupertino, CA
  15. now i see it macrumors 68030

    Jan 2, 2002
    I can tell you right now... this is going to create a lot of unnecessary anxiety for countless users who see an occasional heart jump on the display. Admittedly, it might help a few people too.
    This is gong to be one of those devices that people either obsess on, (100x worse than your iPhone battery capacity meter) or learn to ignore and not use after a few panicked visits to the Dr, reveal nothing can be done about occasional irregular heartbeats.

    It's going to be helpful and harmful. The few it helps will come at the expense of the many who develop anxiety disorders staring at it incessantly.
  16. wbeasley macrumors 6502


    Nov 23, 2007
    How is this "information only" any different to other smart watch functions like heart rate, sleep patterns or fall detection?

    We all know these things aren't as accurate as lab controlled devices. Put a sticker disclaimer on advertising.

    The possibility of informing someone of a potential problem must surely be way more important than not knowing.

    How many Watch wearers have already proven early alerts have saved lives?
  17. Treebark macrumors 6502


    May 24, 2010
    Why? A normal resting heart rate is between 60-100 and he was even in that range while not resting. While a lower resting heart rate may indicate better cardiovascular shape, he also wasn't exactly resting while filming the video. Moving around, talking, maybe the stress of doing a video demo all would elevate his resting heart rate.
    --- Post Merged, Dec 6, 2018 ---
    So? If all those are false calls then perhaps a waste of time. But if some people get their lives saved by this was it really a waste of time? And don't tell me it depends on the people. ;)
  18. Solver macrumors 6502a

    Jan 6, 2004
    Cupertino, CA
    Could be because Apple does not want to be sued out of existence.
  19. mattyj2001 macrumors member


    Oct 29, 2015
    I would posit that anyone flying into a panic over this is already prone to panic. I don't think a calm, rational, intelligent human being is suddenly going to go bonkers over this. Hypochondriacs already call the doctor too much, this might just add an extra call here and there.
  20. Moof1904 macrumors 65816

    May 20, 2004
    It seems a bit absurd that the FDA states this should not be used by those who already have been diagnosed with a-fib. Wouldn't such people want to know if their a-fib is being well controlled by whatever anti-a-fib-whatever their doctor has them on?
  21. 370zulu macrumors regular


    Nov 4, 2014
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Agree completely!
  22. mattyj2001 macrumors member


    Oct 29, 2015
    I just went out and bought an Apple watch for this very purpose. (plus I was about due, anyway.) I have occasional (2-3 times a year) heart palpitations and over the years the docs have never been able to capture it to see what was going on. Or to even know how often it happens (I only notice it when I'm in a sedentary posture.) It's difficult to describe the heartbeat pattern to a human, too.

    At the very least this will likely let me know how often this occurs, I may not notice it sometimes. Plus if I'm able to capture it in-watch a few times perhaps the admittedly not entirely clinical tape could give a clue on where to look for problems with my ticker.

    I'm not under any delusions that this qualifies as a medical device, but broadly it could give me an idea of how prevalent the problem really is, and perhaps the intensity of it at the time it occurs.
  23. shareef777 macrumors 68020


    Jul 26, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    I should note that I'm not affiliated with either party. Just saying politics has no place for this discussion. This is a feature that'll help save lives. Lets focus on that good vs anything else that's not related.
  24. canyonblue737 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 10, 2005
    I can tell you right now... Apple is deeply concerned that a product they make may suddenly cause unnecessary alarm to users and send them flocking to the doctor unnecessarily. The bad press would be epic. I am quite certain that they have carefully estimated the false positive rate vs. a true positive rate for alerts and are comfortable you will be proven quite wrong or they wouldn't have shipped this. Perhaps to make sure they reduce false positives it may in fact be very over-conservative and may miss people with irregular heart rhythms but while I'm sure there will be some hype over a literal handful of false positives from this product it will actually be used by MILLIONS and they will never get alerts until they need it.
  25. OverSpun macrumors 65816


    Sep 12, 2006
    This update works great! Much better than I expected.

    Obviously carefully read the instructions when you set up the EKG app. It explains all of the features from the app.

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