Smartwatches have progressed from quirky toys and status symbols to comprehensive health and fitness monitors in just a few years. The market has been flooded with gadgets that use various sensors to track everyday activities, exercise, sleep, and overall health since approximately early 2021.
They can also warn wearers of impending heart attacks and request help if they fall and are unable to get up.Electrocardiograms (ECGs) have become a big issue in the wearable technology market as a result of the Apple Watch Series 5. It's available on a number of smartwatches, including the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 and the Fitbit Sense. As a result, one of the most important health features of today's health watches is ECG functionalityECG stands for electrocardiogram, and it is a medical procedure for monitoring cardiac activity and detecting irregularities.
The abbreviation ECG stands for electrocardiogram. It gives a more accurate reading when taken in a hospital. However, putting a simple version of this circuitry into a smartwatch has the advantage of allowing you to get an ECG reading whenever you choose. You can also send the information to your doctor rather than wait until they arrive at the hospital.ECG smartwatches aren't necessary.
For many people, the main question is, "Who needs an ECG smartwatch?" For many (possibly most) people, functionality is something they use once and then forget about. For a considerable majority of the population, however, an ECG is required.
Wearable ECG is useful for a small segment of the population. This is more likely to benefit users over the age of 50 than those in their 20s and 30s.
Afib, a condition that disrupts your heart's rhythm, can come and go. Having a device on hand that can take readings on the fly is therefore a very important health tool.
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What is an ECG and how does it work?
Smartwatches obtain an ECG by connecting an electrical circuit through the wearer's body. The rear of the device's heart rate sensor is pushed against the wrist. It starts taking the reading when the wearer touches a finger on either the display or the crown. It takes roughly 30 seconds to complete an ECG. The information is supplied to a smartphone app, which may be accessed, saved, and shared with a doctor.
In 2018, the Apple Watch Series 4 was the first smartwatch to feature an ECG app. Because a clinical function like this requires approval from national health ministries, Apple's ECG app wasn't available in every country at the same time. Instead, once the FDA cleared the software, it landed in the United States. Even so, it didn't work in the UK or Europe until months later, when the European Union's counterpart to the FDA gave its approval.
These regulations must be followed by any maker of ECG-enabled goods. As a result, ECG software is frequently offered in stages. The FDA has yet to approve Withings' ECG app (though it is available in Europe), and Samsung has also suffered delays.
The ability to conduct an ECG scan from your wrist is astounding. Smartwatches have offered new advances in many areas of modern life. An ECG is performed in most hospitals using 12-lead ECG equipment. Doctors can use this to check for heart blockages, atrial fibrillation, abnormal heart rhythms, ventricular fibrillation, and heart attacks in their patients.
Until the invention of wireless ECG equipment, it was impossible to acquire ECG findings at home. Smartwatches can't identify a heart attack, but they can detect an irregular heartbeat. This informs consumers if medical help is required before any difficulties arise.
What is the accuracy of a smartwatch ECG?
If you're going to buy a smartwatch to use with an ECG scanner, be sure it's FDA-approved. This indicates it's been approved by doctors and has a high level of accuracy. It's not easy to get FDA approval, so you can believe that any smartwatches bearing this label are accurate. When searching for a watch, keep in mind that some don't have an official FDA clearance symbol.
Smartwatches with ECG
Atrial fibrillation symptoms are frequently monitored with smartwatches with ECG capability. This condition can result in an abnormally fast or irregular heartbeat. It's common, but it's also dangerous. Because ECG testing isn't available outside of a medical setting, it typically remains untreated. Smartwatches, which have ECG hardware, emphasize that they cannot detect other heart issues, such as a suspected cardiac arrest. However, the data and alarms they provide will equip owners with the information they need to seek assistance.
The following are some of the most prevalent smartwatches and wearable devices that have an ECG app. Although not all of them are currently available globally (yet), and some, such as Garmin, still are not.
We've put some of the top ECG smartwatches on the market in 2023 to the test, and we'll offer you our honest opinion.
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Charge 5 Fitbit
Fitbit, which is currently owned by Google, is known for fitness trackers and also sells a wristwatch called the Sense, as well as the Fitbit Charge 5.
The Sense is a full-featured smartwatch that includes the same health and fitness capabilities as an Apple Watch. In addition, there are notifications, water resistance, call handling, music streaming, contactless payments, and other features. In fact, it rivals the Apple Watch SE in terms of performance.
Opinions of users
Maygen, our reviewer, was a die-hard Fitbit enthusiast during testing, switching from a Charge 3 to a Versa 2 and then to the Sense. The transition from a fitness tracking band to a fitness smartwatch is evident. In fact, she found that having Alexa compatibility on the watch allowed her to use it for more than just tracking her workouts.
Steps, calorie burn, heart rate, and hence ECG readings are, of course, intended solely as a guideline, not as official medical data. The accuracy, on the other hand, is sufficient to have confidence in.
The Sense's only flaw, according to Maygen, is a practical one. The arrival of the nearly touchless side button was more of a burden than a blessing for her. During workouts, her wrist made a lot of unintentional contact, which caused the session to pause. Pressing the button outside of exercise mode also wakes Alexa up. We wouldn't call this a deal-breaker because it is a tiny concern from one person.
Fitbit Charge 5
The Fitbit Charge 5 is a little device with a lot of fitness and health functions, and it's the first to include Fitbit's Daily Readiness Score.
Opinions of users
Maygen has also experimented with the Charge 5. Gravity and elegance aren't always on her side, especially when she's running, so being able to hit a button while on the go was excellent. Because it was so easy to mistakenly double-tap and skip over the screen she needed, she had to start from the beginning.
It's neither the finest nor the worst running interface she's ever used, but it's far from ideal. You'll see three separate metrics at once to keep track of your progress; two of them are permanent (distance and time), but the larger one in the middle changes with each tap to cycle between your current pace, average pace, heart rate, calories, and steps.
Putting away the fiddliness, Maygen's first impression is that the built-in GPS and heart rate monitor fall short of a Garmin Forerunner 245, a popular go-to running companion that is normally accurate for 5K and more casual runs.
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Is the Fitbit Charge 5 a good investment?
In other ways, though, the Fitbit Charge 5 is more than the sum of its parts. The Fitbit app is a strong candidate for those who aren't quite ready for Garmin Connect's data extravaganza but still want to be active. The new style and screen make the Fitbit app a strong challenger for those who aren't quite ready for Garmin Connect's numbers bonanza but still want to go active.
An HRM and the capacity to do an ECG are included in both Fitbit devices. Wear the device and, like with others, place a finger on the aluminum shell to complete the ECG reading. Like the Apple Watch, the Fitbit Sense and Charge 5 track exceptionally high and low heart rates.
The ECG app for Fitbit Sense is also not available everywhere. It does, however, operate in the United States and the United Kingdom. As of February 2021, Canada, New Zealand, and Singapore will join Europe, with Canada, New Zealand, and Singapore on the way. According to Fitbit, no one under the age of 22 uses the ECG app. According to reports, the Fitbit Sense will include blood pressure monitoring.
Series 4, 5, 6, and 7 Apple Watches
On the Apple Watch Series 4, 5, 6, and 7, the ECG app is available. Superwatches.com has a detailed overview and assessment of the Apple Series 7.
The first iteration (Series 4) was published in the fall of 2018, and the most recent, Series 7, was issued in the spring of 2021. On the Series 7, there are a lot of intriguing new features to check out, including health applications, but they come at a premium price. If you're not sure whether Apple's latest model is the perfect investment for you, superwatches.com has a comparison of the Series 6 and 7.
In most countries, the ECG app is available. It takes roughly 30 seconds to complete and then transmits the collected information to the user's iPhone's Health app. If necessary, it can then be sent to a doctor.
How the ECG works and what you can observe as a result
The wearer's body is connected to an electrical circuit to obtain an ECG. Now, with the Apple Watch, you set the heart rate monitor on your wrist as usual, then complete the circuit by tapping the Digital Crown with your opposite hand's index finger. If your heartbeat is regular or if you have Afib, the watch will alert you.
Although the Apple Watch SE has a heart rate monitor, it lacks the ability to take an ECG.
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An in-depth look at the Apple Watch 7:
The Apple Watch is a popular smartwatch, and its upcoming release in 2021 will include an accurate ECG capability. The Apple Watch 7 has an ECG app that allows you to quickly and simply capture electrocardiograms. This software measures your pulse to determine your heart rate and if the upper and lower chambers of your heart are in sync.
Despite its popularity, this ECG app is not available in all locations. Check the Apple Watch 7 website to determine if the ECG app is supported in your region before you buy it. You may also discover how to download the ECG app and how to interpret your results by visiting the Apple website.
To get the most out of your ECG app, follow these steps:
- Ensure that the Apple Watch is clean and dry before using it.
- Make sure the watch is securely fastened.
- While recording, rest your arm on a table.
The Apple Watch 7 can be purchased on eBay, Amazon, or directly from Apple. For additional information on where to buy, go here. It has the potential to be the best and most dependable ECG smartwatch on the market.
Maygen got an Apple Watch 6 and waved goodbye to Fitbit after wanting to dive deeper into the Apple ecosystem. She was blown away by the volume of data and discovered that calorie burn and heart rate, in particular, were less generous, implying that they were more accurate.
The watch itself is rather pleasant to wear. She goes to the gym with a black silicone strap (which is very easy to clean) and out with a brown leather option. That, or a stainless steel link bracelet, which completely transforms the watch's appearance.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3, 4, and Active 2 are all smartwatches from the company
Several Samsung smartwatches, including the 3, the forthcoming Galaxy Watch 4, and the Active 2, now have ECG capability. These have been granted licenses in the United States, Europe, and South Korea, where Samsung is based.
These watches can conduct an ECG using the heart rate sensor when the wearer places a finger from the opposite hand on the case. As with previous ECG wearables, you must lay your forearm on a level surface and be as quiet as possible during the 30-second ECG.
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The Move ECG and the ScanWatch are smartwatches by Withings, a French technology company, that have ECG capabilities. The former is less expensive and slightly out of date, whilst the latter is the most up-to-date. Both track activity, heart rate, and sleep, but the ScanWatch features a more simple display for alarms and other information.
Withings is still waiting for FDA approval, despite being clinically verified and commercially available in Europe. It won't be able to sell its ECG equipment in the United States until that happens. The organization had planned to remove this hurdle in 2020 because it was causing delays, but it has yet to do so as of early 2021.
We felt the watch to be a tad heavy on the wrist during testing, but this is purely subjective. We enjoy how it resembles a traditional watch rather than a smartwatch. As a result, we believe that people in their 50s and 60s will appreciate it. According to user reviews, the design and ergonomics appear to be a notable feature. As well as the details in the data provided for health monitoring, including the addition of ECG capabilities.
Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor Omron HeartGuide
Some wearables take it a step further and promote heart health as a selling point. The Omron HeartGuide is one such device. It's being touted as the world's first FDA-approved wearable blood pressure monitor that's been scientifically tested (by the Food and Drug Administration of the United States).
It will measure your blood pressure, track your steps, distance, calories, and sleep, and display some (limited) smartphone notifications. HeartGuide will calculate your heart rate as well as your blood pressure when you want it to.
As you undoubtedly already know if you frequently monitor your blood pressure, blood pressure and heart rate are two different markers of heart health.
Blood pressure is the intensity of your blood flowing through the veins, whereas heart rate is the number of beats per minute. As a result, the Omron is unable to determine a workout's heart rate.
This may seem like a fair (though hefty) purchase if you check your blood pressure frequently, don't need advanced smart features, and aren't particularly fashion-conscious.
When compared to medical BP readings, we found the values to be quite accurate during testing. When it comes to getting a blood pressure reading, though, you should follow the instructions. In this essay, we go through some helpful hints.
Heart Guide by Omron
Check your pulse rateIf you wish to check your blood pressure at home, it can be an interesting experience. You'll need quick fingers to put it on and take it off, which you'll have to do every time you want to shower. It may withstand being sprayed with water when washing your face if you're patient, but it won't survive being submerged in water. It feels big and cumbersome, even on a strong male wrist.
Only a medium is available, and we're not sure how a large would feel. The Heart Guide should not be used if you have had a mastectomy. Traditional blood pressure monitors have a variety of alarms. Discuss how often you can check your blood pressure during the day with your doctor. Omron advises against doing it more frequently than necessary to avoid bruising. There's no need to wear anything so heavy all the time if you're just going to do it once or twice a day.
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How can you determine if you're properly monitoring your HR?There are a few things you can do to make sure your watch accurately measures your heart rate.
- Make sure your wristwatch or fitness tracker is snug around your wrist but not too tight, with the sensors flush against your skin, slightly above the wrist bone.
- Keep your smartwatch or fitness tracker in good working order. Sweat can sometimes cause readings to be obstructed.
- If you have poor circulation or are merely cold, warm yourself before taking a reading.
- If you smoke or drink before taking a measurement, your heart rate may differ from normal. As a comparison, try taking another one later.
Veronica is a culture reporter at Collaborative Research Group, where she writes about food, fitness, weird stuff on the internet, and, well, just about anything else. She has also covered technology news and has a penchant for smartphone stories. .