After unveiling the Apple Watch Series 4 in September of last year, Apple also introduced support for the electrocardiogram (ECG) feature to the wearable device nearly three months later. However, the ECG app was available only to users in the U.S. as part of watchOS 5.1.2 along with a heart rhythm monitor for detecting signs of atrial fibrillation (AFib) through heart rate check-ups.
Thankfully for customers overseas, Apple has announced the availability of its ECG app on the Apple Watch Series 4 in several European countries and Hong Kong. Additionally, the irregular rhythm notification feature, which is available on Apple Watch Series 1 and later, has received clearance in the European Economic Area.
Both features are rolling out to Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the U.K. as part of the watchOS 5.2 update.
The ECG app works to measure the electric signals in the user's heart rate over a 30-second period and then classifies the heart rhythm as either AFib, sinus rhythm or inconclusive. It takes these measurements using the sensors on the back of the Watch as well as on the digital crown upon which user may place their finger.
In addition, the irregular rhythm notification works in the background to check for signs of irregular heart rhythm and notifies the user if it detects an anomaly on five rhythm checks over a 65-minute period. The benefit of this feature in terms of helping people seek medical help on time was highlighted in a study by researchers from Stanford Medicine.
It should be noted that the capabilities only work with iPhones updated to iOS 12.2. The heart features can be accessed by opening the Health app on an iPhone.