When Apple announced the new Apple Watch Series 4, one of the main highlights of the device was its ability to record Electro-Cardiogram or ECG readings. This was achieved by an additional sensor embedded in the Digital Crown. However, it was also announced that the ECG feature would be a US exclusive for some time to come due to relevant approvals. Additionally, when the watch went on sale, the feature was missing, that is until last week, when Apple rolled out WatchOS 5.1.2 which brought the feature to the Apple Watch. Within less than a week of release, the ECG feature has already saved a life.
According to a Reddit user who had just enabled the feature on his new Apple Watch Series 4, he received an abnormal heart-rate notification on the watch. This prompted him to take a quick ECG reading which showed him that he was experiencing an atrial fibrillation event (Afib). He took the readings several times and arrived at the same conclusion. The user’s post further says that he drove himself to the hospital and as he walked into the ER said, "Ok so there is a new watch feature....hahaha....I’m silly but can we check this?" And when a technician checked his heart on a monitor, he was alarmed enough to get a doctor to come right away. After an examination, the doc tells him, "You should buy Apple stock. This probably saved you. I read about this last night and thought we would see an upswing this week. I didn’t expect it first thing this morning."
The ECG feature along with Fall Detection were the two major features of the new Apple Watch Series 4, both of which have received positive feedback from customers who have benefitted from their real-life use cases. In the days leading up to the WatchOS 5.1.2 release, there had been reports that users outside the US could get the ECG feature by changing the region on their Apple Watch and paired iPhone to U.S., but we can confirm that this method will not work. Apple has also clarified that the feature only ships on devices that were slated for sale within the United States of America. The ECG feature, given its medical relevance, requires approval from each country’s competent medical authorities before it can ship within that country. In the US, Apple received FDA approval for the same and is working with the relevant medical authorities of various countries to expand the availability of the feature.