EKG, other heart health features come to Apple Watch

Apple Watch is now fulfilling its promise to let people take EKGs of their heart and notify them of any irregular heartbeat.

Apple announced the heart features in September, but didn't make them available until yesterday. The new features have been given clearance by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and are for U.S. customers only.

The watch can intermittently check the wearer's heart rhythm in the background and send a notification if it detects irregular heart rhythm. That can point to atrial fibrillation, a condition that can increase the risk of stroke and other complications. Apple says the watch will notify users if it detects an irregular rhythm on five checks over at least 65 minutes.

When symptoms appear, users can also take an EKG, or electrocardiogram, and share that with doctors. This feature is available for the latest, Series 4 version of the watch. The app, called ECG, comes as part of a free software update for the watch.

The irregular heart notification is available for older models, too, starting with the "Series 1" model in 2016. It doesn't work with the original, 2015 model.

 

 

Dawn Kamber