Apple Watch can be an excellent health monitoring just by using it, but there are some opt-in features that you need to turn on to access. While you're not going to work with Apple Watch, you might want to double-check that these health monitoring features are turned on, so you get the most out of Apple Watch.
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First, make sure you are running the latest version of watchOS, the software that runs Apple Watch. Some features require newer versions of watchOS to work and all features work best when Apple Watch is up to date. Our step-by-step guide can help you check which version of watchOS Apple Watch is running and help you update to the latest version.
You also want to know what Apple Watch model you have before moving on. Some features require newer Apple Watch hardware, even if you have the latest software. Our guide can help you identify which Apple Watch model you have, and Apple explains what health features work with what clock in this useful chart:
Heart Rate Alerts & ECG
The Embedded The heart rate sensor on Apple Watch has a number of useful heart monitoring features that passively work in the background. If you have Apple Watch Series 1 or later (sorry, the original Apple Watch is excluded), Apple Watch can alert you when it detects three things.
High heart rate alerts are sent when Apple Watch detects a heart rate of over 100-150 beats per minute over a 10 minute inactivity period. You can specify the limit that triggers the alert based on 10 bpm intervals.
Low Heart Rate Warnings is triggered when the Apple Watch detects a heart rate below 40-50 bpm for 10 minutes. You can set the threshold based on 5 bpm intervals.
Irregular rhythm alerts you when Apple Watch identifies several heart rhythms that may be atrial fibrillation, a condition that can lead to "stroke, heart failure, and other heart-related complications" according to the Mayo Clinic.
Each of these features can be turned on and customized in the Watch app on iPhone during the Heart section of the My Watch tab.
If Apple Watch informs you that an irregular heartbeat has been detected and you have Apple Watch Series 4, you can now take an electrocardiogram with the new ECG app straight from Apple Watch. You can use our tutorials to learn how to access the ECG app and get the best results when taking ECGs before sharing results with your doctor.
If you have an Apple Watch Series 4, you can also use the upgraded heart rate sensors to capture your current heart rate with faster readings and higher fidelity using the Heart app and Digital Crown.
Apple Watch Series 4 also introduces fall warning thanks to the upgraded accelerometer and gyroscope, but it is only by default if the health program knows you are 65 or older. From my Series 4 review:
This feature detects intelligently when someone uses the Series 4 falls, presents an option to call emergency services or rejects the alert, and automatically calls emergency services and informs emergency contact if you do not respond within one minute of a proven fall.
Case detection is turned off by default if you are under 65 years of age. Apple says it's because younger people often engage in activities that can misunderstand a fall, such as playing sports, but you can turn it on manually.
You can turn it on manually regardless of your age in the Emergency SOS section of the Watch app on the iPhone.
You may also want to take a moment and update your emergency contact information from your iPhone using our guide. Apple Watch uses this information when a fall is detected and you are not blacked out to automatically alert your emergency contact.
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