Garmin’s new ECG feature is now live but only on the ‘ageing’ Venu 2 Plus.
What is ECG vs EKG vs Echo Cardiogram?
It can be confusing as there are different types of ECG with varying levels of quality and accuracy. A hospital ECG uses as many as 12 leads or electrical circuits, while a smartwatch ECG uses only one lead or circuit, which goes from either the metal bezel or start button to an isolated piece of metal on the back of the watch, usually the entire backplate. The circuit runs from one arm through the chest and then the other arm, and over the heart, which is where the information is collected. It’s important to note that the ECG functionality is not inherently linked to the LED optics on the back of a smartwatch, although it may be combined with other sensors.
It is also important to note that hospital ECGs do diagnose potentially fatal and common conditions such as Atrial Fibrillation (Afib), however, the ECG on your smartwatch cannot diagnose such a condition.
Smartwatch manufacturers such as Garmin and Apple will avoid making such claims. Furthermore, each geographic region will require separate certification, so the ECG feature on smartwatches may not be available in all countries.
It is important to remember that if you are feeling unwell, it is best to consult a doctor
How it works
It is also important to note that an ECG is a wellness feature and not an athletic feature. As such, it is not possible to take an ECG recording during exercise.
To take an ECG reading on your Garmin, you must sit still for 30 seconds and place your index finger and thumb on the bezel. This process is not overly burdensome, but you will soon stop doing it unless you are highly motivated to continue. In contrast, Apple’s ECG feature automatically takes readings periodically throughout the day and tracks any instances of AFib.
Which Models Get ECG?
As of today, it’s only on the Venu 2 Plus and only in the USA
According to DCRainmaker, it is speculated that the only current Garmin watch capable of the feature is the Venu 2 Plus, which has a special electrical isolating ring around the main sensor. It is not certain whether other Garmin watches have the capability for AFib detection via ECG or whether Garmin will give this feature to other watches.
His speculation may be true as the oHR sensor unit on the rear has a special electrical isolating ring around the main sensor. However, as I’ve said before on this blog, many other Garmin watches have the requisite metal button or bezel and metal backplate to be ECG-capable. Whether they have the other necessary internal or whether Garmin is commercially motivated to give the feature to you are probably the more significant factors determining which Garmin watches will get AFib detection via ECG.
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