At long last, I can stop hassling Apple about why every single Apple Watch doesn’t include the ECG (Electrocardiograph) feature in Australia, because as of today, it does. Here’s how to activate and use it.
The ECG function has been part of Apple Watch since the Series 4 models emerged back in 2018, but for Australians, there was a big problem. The ECG function wasn’t available in Australia, because Apple had (reportedly) not sought certification for it from the Therapeutic Goods Administration at the time.
Everyone was rather tight-lipped about it, but a lot of recent reporting suggested it was “coming soon” for Australian users, having passed the TGA hurdles finally.
That day is today, with the update to watchOS 7.4 explicitly including the ECG function for Australian users. So what do you need to do to get it up and running?
- Have an Apple Watch Series 4 or newer. Sorry, older Apple Watch users – the hardware simply isn’t there for ECG readings on your older smartwatches.
- Update to watchOS 7.4. You can wait for Apple Watch to do this for you — typically overnight when it’s on your charger — or initiate it from the Watch app in iOS. You’ll need a charger handy, however, as Apple Watch is understandably fussy about making sure it doesn’t run out of power during an update.
- Open the Health app on your paired Apple iPhone. If you’ve not done so before you’ll need to give it some basic measurements — height, weight, age, that kind of thing. Then if you scroll down, you should be invited to set up the ECG function on your Apple Watch. Again, it’ll want your date of birth (I have no idea why it wants this twice, but whatever).
- Then you can open the ECG app on your Apple Watch. It’s not as you might think the little heart icon — that’s for heart rate tracking that was already available — but instead the spiky line, reminiscent of an actual ECG if you’ve ever had to get one of those done.
- The actual ECG measurement involves holding a finger to the digital crown for around 30 seconds while measurements are done.
- You’ll then get your readout. All done!
So I never need to take a proper ECG again, right?
Oh hell no.
That’s not what the ECG function is meant to be for, and Apple is damned explicit about this.
It’s meant to help you understand your heart health, but it’s not a full diagnostic tool and if you have concerns it’s vital that you seek help for any issues from a medical professional. The results your Apple Watch give you may be indicative, but there’s no way they’d be taken as a final and single result.
To borrow from Apple’s own help notes:
- The ECG app cannot detect a heart attack. If you ever experience chest pain, pressure, tightness, or what you think is a heart attack, call emergency services immediately.
- The ECG app cannot detect blood clots or a stroke.
- The ECG app cannot detect other heart-related conditions. These include high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, high cholesterol, or other forms of arrhythmia.
- If you’re not feeling well or are feeling any symptoms, talk to your doctor or seek immediate medical attention.
Indeed. Also, it looks as though I’m going to… live!