ECG App on Apple Watch 4

Apple released Watch OS 5.1.2 today, which (finally) supports the ECG feature of Watch 4. Tip: after installing 5.1.2 you need to open the Health App and activate and configure it. At that point, the ECG app itself will appear on the Watch. Follow the instructions in health to take an ECG.

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I just did one. Had a real “this is the future!” moment.

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Same here. As a person born in the 70’s, I feel like I’ve grown up alongside personal computing and watched it grow. Getting the Series 4 last week and getting today’s update have recaptured that sense of astonishment I felt when I first held my first iPhone.

It’s cool to watch the reading and get the results.

If a user has a resting heartbeat lower than 50 then the ECG will not produce a result (“inconclusive”) – so it’s important to move around a bit then sit down for the reading.

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Again, not available here in Germany. We also have no Apple News and we still wait for Apple Pay. IBM once had the slogan „solutions for a small planet“. Apple lets me sometimes think that this planet isn’t that small.

After reading the disclaimers, what is this feature really useful for? On the other hand, I really appreciate the fall detection and the improved heart rate monitoring.

This is pretty cool:

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Not necessarily. My below-50 heart rate and my subnormal body temperature is a life-long thing. Doctors always say “that’s interesting” and move on.

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Not nessarily. A resting rate of 48-50 +/- can be a sign of a healthy heart from aerobic exercise.

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@anon41602260 is correct. Some people, particularly athletes or those who exercise regularly and are in good physical condition, have “sinus bradycardia”, the most common form of a low heart rate (“bradycardia”, defined as a consistent heart rate below 60 bpm).

Even though I can explain my history of “normal sinus bradycardia”, I carry a copy of some of my old ECGs, some dating back 40 years, to doctor visits. My current resting heart rate is in the 50s but was in the 40s as a college-age athlete. Whenever a medical provider (usually a nurse or technician doing preliminary screening) points out the low heart rate, I open Dropbox in my phone or iPad and show the old ECGs. Works every time - as @anon41602260 stated, they just move on.

To @Wolfie’s comment I would modify the recommendation to consult a doctor if there are symptoms due to the low heart rate, or if this is a new or unexpected finding.

The new ECG feature of the Watch is fascinating. It may result in a transient flurry of concerned Watch owners consulting doctors’ offices, but after the dust settles it will probably prove to be a good thing.


I guess the more interesting question for Apple is “why 50?” Is it a technical limitation of the Watch hardware and/or app? A policy thing (along the lines of @Wolfie’s comment)? Marketing? Would be interesting to see informed commentary on that.

Yeah my watch reports a resting heartbeat consistently between about 48bpm and 51bpm, and I also run a bit cool (about 96.XÂşF). Never prompted a comment from my doctor.

Holy smokes. He should look out for an email from Apple marketing soon :slight_smile:

Exactly — and especially if it’s not normal for you.

My doctor once told me that if I ever ended up in the ER and the docs there thought my blood pressure too low, I should tell them that a little bit low is my norm.