How to Use Apple Watch Health Sensors to Track Your Health

Mte Feat Ecg Apple Watch

Take control of your well-being using the advanced health sensors on your Apple Watch. In addition to preventative care, learning how to monitor your health with your Apple Watch may help you understand when it it is time to seek medical attention.

Monitoring Your Heart Rate With Apple Watch

Apple Watch monitors your heart rate throughout the day in the background. Learn how to manually check your current heart rate, resting heart rate, and workout heart rate at any time.

  1. Navigate your Apple Watch by pressing the Digital Crown to access the Home Screen.
Watch Digital Crown
  1. Tap on the Heart Rate app icon to launch the heart rate monitor.
Watch Hr Icon
  1. Your current heart rate is displayed on the screen. Tap on your heart rate to reveal high and low measurements from the current day.
Watch Heart Rate
  1. To view your average resting heart rate, your average heart rate while walking, and your heart rate during workouts, rotate the Digital Crown to scroll down within the app.
Watch Digital Crown Scroll

Enabling High and Low Heart Rate Notifications

Configure your Apple Watch to notify you when your heart rate rises above or falls below a specified threshold.

  1. Launch the Watch app on your iPhone.
Watch App Iphone
  1. Select the “My Watch” tab at the bottom of the screen.
Iphone My Watch Tab
  1. Tap on “Heart.”
Watch Heart Tab
  1. Select “High Heart Rate” and choose a BPM measurement from the checklist. High heart rate notifications range from 100 BPM to 150 BPM.
Watch High Heart Rate Bpm
  1. Tap on “Low Heart Rate” and choose a BPM measurement. Low heart rate notifications range from 40 BPM to 50 BPM.
Watch Low Hr Bpm

Activating Irregular Heart Rhythm Notifications

Your Apple Watch can help you understand how often your heart beats irregularly. In fact, the watch uses FDA-cleared technology to identify signs of Atrial fibrillation (AFib), a leading cause of stroke when left untreated.

  1. Navigate to the Health app on your iPhone.
Iphone Health App
  1. Tap the “Browse” tab from the bottom menu.
Iphone Browse Tab
  1. Select “Heart” from the list of menu items.
Iphone Browse Heart
  1. Scroll down to select the “Irregular Rhythm Notifications” menu item.
Health App Irregular
  1. Scroll down once more and tap on the “Irregular Rhythm Notifications” toggle at the bottom of the listed menu items.
Iphone Irregular Rhythm Notification
  1. Tap the switch directly to the right of the text that reads “Irregular Rhythm.” The fill color inside the switch will turn green, confirming that you have successfully enabled the feature.
Iphone Irregular Rhythm Toggle

Taking an ECG on Your Apple Watch

You can use your Apple Watch to take a single-lead electrocardiogram (also called ECG or EKG), which can be shared with your doctor to gain insights into your overall cardiac health.

  1. From your watch face, press the Digital Crown to access the Home Screen.
Watch Digital Crown 1
  1. Launch the ECG app.
Watch Ecg App
  1. Place one finger on the Digital Crown and hold still for 30 seconds to perform an ECG reading.
Watch Ecg Reading
  1. After you have received your reading, scroll down using the Digital Crown and tap the “Done” button.
Watch Ecg Done
  1. Alternatively, you can add symptoms to your ECG report if you would like to share the information with your doctor. After you scroll down, simply select “Add Symptoms.”
Watch Ecg Symptoms
  1. Select any symptoms that you experienced, then scroll down to select the “Save” button.
Watch Ecg Symptoms Save

Understanding ECG App Results

  • Sinus rhythm: your heart is beating in a uniform pattern.
  • Atrial fibrillation: your heart is beating in an irregular pattern. Consult your doctor regarding AFib if you have not already been diagnosed.
  • Low/high heart rate: heart rates that are too high or too low negatively impact the ECG app’s ability to monitor signs of AFib. Unless the result is linked to a known medical condition, consult your doctor.
  • Inconclusive or poor recording: the ECG recording could not be classified. This could be because you failed to remain still during the recording.

To learn more about what each ECG result may reveal about your health, consult Apple’s tips to read ECG results.

Managing ECG Reports on Your iPhone

Learn how to export your ECG recordings so that you can share them with your doctor.

  1. After you take an ECG on your Apple Watch, tap the notification banner that appears on your iPhone informing you that you can view ECG reports in the Health app.
Watch Ecg Reports
  1. Tap on any one of the dated ECG recordings to view more information about the reading.
Watch Ecg Recording Info
  1. Select the blue “Export PDF” button to view a flattened copy of the report.
Watch Ecg Export
  1. Tap the share icon to export a PDF copy of the recording and open it in other apps.
Watch Ecg Export Pdf

Monitoring Your Blood Oxygen With Apple Watch

Your Apple Watch can help you learn more about your overall health and fitness by allowing you to monitor the amount of oxygen that your red blood cells are carrying to your lungs under different conditions.

  1. From your watch face, press the Digital Crown to access the Home Screen.
Watch Digital Crown 2
  1. Tap on the Blood Oxygen icon to launch the app.
Watch Blood Ox Icon
  1. Press the “Start” button and hold still for 15 seconds while your Apple Watch performs the measurement.
Watch Blood Ox Recording
  1. After you have received your measurement, press “Done” to save the recording.
Watch Blood Ox Recording Save

Turning on Low Cardio Fitness Notifications

Using your Apple Watch to keep track of your cardio fitness levels can help you gather crucial information regarding your current physical wellness and help you gain long-term fitness insights.

  1. In the Health app on your iPhone, visit the “Browse” tab at the bottom.
Iphone Browse Tab 1
  1. Tap the “Heart” menu item.
Iphone Browse Heart 1
  1. Scroll down to select “Cardio Fitness Notifications.”
Iphone Cardio Fitness Notification
  1. Scroll down once more to select the “Cardio Fitness Notifications” at the bottom of the page.
Iphone Cardio Fitness Notifications
  1. Tap the switch directly to the right of the text that reads “Cardio Fitness Notifications” to turn it on.
Iphone Cardio Fitness Notification Switch

Setting Up Fall Detection

Your Apple Watch can be configured to automatically put you in touch with emergency services in the event that you take a hard fall.

Apple Watch Fall Detection Sos
Image source: Apple
  1. Open the Watch app on your iPhone.
Iphone Watch App
  1. Tap the “Emergency SOS” menu item.
Iphone Watch App Emergency Sos
  1. Toggle on Fall Detection by tapping the switch next to the menu item labeled “Fall Detection.”
Iphone Watch Fall Detection Toggle
  1. You can configure Fall Detection to stay on all the time or only during workouts by selecting items from the checklist below the switch toggle.
Iphone Watch Fall Detection Checklist

Frequently Asked Questions

Do all models of the Apple Watch support the features listed above?

All models of the Apple Watch include the optical heart rate sensor array needed to measure heart rate both manually and passively.

The electrical heart sensor necessary to perform ECG recordings is available on Apple Watch Series 4 and later but not on Apple Watch SE. Blood oxygen readings are supported on Apple Watch Series 6 and later, excluding Apple Watch SE. Fall Detection is not available on Apple Watch Series 3 and earlier.

The ECG app is only available on Apple Watch Series 4 and later in select countries and regions. It is not available on the Apple Watch SE. Also, it is not intended for use by people under 22 years old.

Can my Apple Watch monitor blood pressure?

No. Currently, no Apple Watch models support blood pressure monitoring.

Are there any new health features coming up?

Apple has released a new health capability in the form of a wrist temperature sensor for women in the Apple Watch Series 8. This feature offers advanced fertility insights for women. Apple has also improved sleep tracking in WatchOS 9 and introduced enhanced sleep pattern detection.

Image credit: Apple All screenshots taken by Brahm Shank

Brahm Shank
Brahm Shank

Self-proclaimed coffee connoisseur and tech enthusiast Brahm Shank is captivated by the impact of consumer tech: “It’s profoundly moving when people discover that the phone in their pocket or the tiny computer on their wrist has the power to enrich their lives in ways they never imagined.” Apple, Inc. and its unique position at the intersection of technology and the creative arts, resonates deeply with Brahm and his passion for helping people unleash their potential using technology. Over the years, Brahm has held various podcasts - including famed technologist David Pogue of The New York Times on topics such as Big Tech and digital wellness.

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