We explain 7 valuable ways you can check and improve heart health with Apple Watch.
Whether you own an Apple Watch Series 6, Apple Watch Series 7, Apple Watch Series 8, Apple Watch Ultra, or the second-gen Apple Watch SE, you should be able to find some useful features to check and improve your heart health in this guide.
Check and improve heart health with Apple Watch: 7 features
1. High and low heart rate notifications
If you’d like an alert when your heart rate dips below or rises above a certain threshold and remains there for 10 minutes while inactive, this feature is available for those 13 years old and up.
If you didn’t turn it on the first time opening the Heart Rate app or want to change it:
- On your iPhone, open the Apple Watch app.
- Tap the My Watch tab, then tap Heart.
- Tap High Heart Rate, then select a BPM.
- Tap Low Heart Rate, then select a BPM.
2. Irregular heart rhythm notifications
The irregular rhythm notification feature on your Apple Watch will occasionally look at your heartbeat to check for an irregular rhythm that might be suggestive of atrial fibrillation (AFib).
If you get a notification, the irregular rhythm notification feature on your Apple Watch identified an irregular rhythm suggestive of AFib and confirmed it with multiple readings. If you have not been diagnosed with AFib by a physician, you should talk to your doctor.
To make sure this feature is set up, follow the steps below:
- On your iPhone, open the Health app.
- Tap the Browse tab, then head over to Heart > Irregular Rhythm Notifications.
- Once enabled, you can turn irregular rhythm notifications on or off in the Apple Watch app on your iPhone: Open the Apple Watch app, tap the My Watch tab, then go to Heart > Irregular Rhythm.
3. ECG and AFib History
Apple Watch Series 4 and newer offers an electrical heart rate sensor that, along with the ECG app , allows you to take an electrocardiogram (or ECG).
ECGs are for Apple Watch users at least 22 years old. If you haven’t used it before or didn’t set it up when you first got your watch:
- Open the Health app on your iPhone.
- If you don’t see a prompt to set up, tap Browse located at the bottom right, tap Heart, then tap Electrocardiogram (ECG).
- Open the ECG app on your Apple Watch.
- Rest your arm on a table or in your lap.
- With the hand opposite your watch, hold your finger on the Digital Crown, then wait while Apple Watch records the ECG.
At the end of the recording, you receive a classification. You can then tap Add Symptoms and choose your symptoms. Tap Save to note any symptoms, then tap Done.
To view your results on iPhone, open the Health app on iPhone, tap Browse located at the bottom right, then tap Heart > Electrocardiograms (ECG).
You can also set up the more recent AFib History feature – this regularly checks for signs of AFib in the background
- Head back to the Health app on your iPhone
- Go to Browse > Heart > look for Set Up near the bottom under AFib History
Apple highlights that after an ECG “Regardless of the result, if you aren’t feeling well or are experiencing any symptoms, you should talk to your doctor.”
4. Cardio Fitness
Here’s how Apple describes Cardio Fitness (VO2 max):
“Cardio fitness is a measurement of your VO2 max, which is the maximum amount of oxygen your body can consume during exercise. Your cardio fitness level is a strong indicator of your overall physical health and a predictor of your long-term health.”
If you haven’t set it up before,
- open the Health app on your iPhone.
- Tap Summary and swipe down near the bottom and look for Cardio Fitness (under “Get More From Health” – you can also look under Browse > Heart > Cardio Fitness)
- Choose the blue Set Up button
- Follow the prompts like confirming your health details (must be at least 20 years old)
- You can choose to turn Low Cardio Fitness Notifications
Now you’ll see cardio fitness show up under the Heart section in the Health app
5. Heart rate variability (HRV)
What is HRV? It’s the measurement of how the interval of time between heartbeats changes, measured in milliseconds – notably this is a metric that changes a lot, so looking at broad trends, not daily numbers is most helpful.
Heart Rate Variability is an important metric that many Apple Watch users often ignore. HRV can provide you with good guidance regarding your health.
For example, if you’re taking steps to improve your fitness and overall health, you should gradually increase your average heart rate variability over time.
A downward trend in your HRV over several days is worth paying attention to!
This could signify that you’re training too hard, not sleeping enough, getting sick, eating poorly, encountering too much stress, or failing to hydrate properly.
Higher HRV is associated with reduced morbidity and mortality and improved psychological well-being and quality of life.
The best place to locate heart rate variability information is by using the Health app on your iPhone.
The information is not readily available on your Apple Watch. Here’s how you can track the details around your Heart Rate Variability (HRV).How to Analyze HRV (Heart Rate Variability) on your Apple Watch
- Open the Health App on your iPhone.
- Tap on the Browse tab located at the bottom of your screen.
- Now, tap on Heart and choose Heart Rate Variability.
- This report shows your HRV for the current day, week, month, and year.
6. View your heart data history
Your heart rate is an important way to monitor how your body is doing. You can check your heart rate during a workout; see your resting, walking, workout, and post-workout heart rates, and your heart rate during a Breathe session; or take a new reading at any time.
On Apple Watch
- Open the Heart Rate app on your Apple Watch. to see daily data (app with heart icon)
- You’ll see your current heart rate, swipe or scroll down with the Digital Crown
- Now you can see your resting rate, walking average, workout heart rate, and heart rate recovery data (if you’ve done a workout recently)
To see your heart rate data over a longer period of time, follow the steps below:
- Open the Health app on your iPhone.
- Tap on Browse.
- Tap on Heart.
- Tap an entry. You can show heart data for the last hour, day, week, month, or year.
7. Bonus features – Vascular Age and Blood Pressure
Compatible with Apple Health, the Withings Body Cardio smart scale offers a Vascular Age feature that measures the “speed at which the blood pressure pulse propagates through the circulatory system.”
With those measurements, the smart scale is able to determine your arterial stiffness and health with a comparison to the average of people in your age group.
Body Cardio also tracks weight, BMI, body composition (water, fat, bone, and muscle), heart rate tracking, and more.
And if you want a seamless way to measure and track your blood pressure with Apple Health, the Withings BPM Connect is a great option.
Valuable ways to check and improve heart health with Apple Watch
These are the best Apple Watch features that will help your heart health. Have you been using some or all of these features with your Apple Watch? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments section below!
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