Garmin Fenix 7 Pro and Epix Pro get ECG
Owners of new, high-end Garmin watches with the very latest Elevate v5 optical heart rate sensor may have been wondering when its promised ECG feature would be activated. Well, it’s now.
The ECG feature was originally scoped out with the Garmin Venu 2 Plus but as of today, you can access it on your Garmin Fenix 7 Pro, Garmin Epix Pro, Garmin Tactix 7 AMOLED (TBC), or Garmin Venu 3 series.
What Does the Garmin ECG Feature Do?
The abbreviations ECG and EKG are sometimes used interchangeably and stand for electrocardiogram. Whatever you wish to call it, the deliverable to you is a detailed track of each heartbeat and Garmin records that over a 30-second period.
You can take a PDF chart of the test to your doctor if atrial fibrillation (Afib) has been detected or you can rest assured that everything is probably OK if you are determined to have a normal sinus rhythm.
However, let’s take a quick step back as that’s not quite right.
Garmin and other industry players like Apple, Google and Samsung can only provide you with a 1-Lead ECG, whereas a proper ECG test in a hospital will use 12 leads. The difference here is that a watch will only create one electrical circuit whereas more sophisticated ECGs have several electrical circuits to determine a more complete picture and a normal sinus rhythm is normally only determined by a 12-lead ECG.
However, don’t panic! Watches that have passed FDA certification, like Garmin, are classed as medical devices and have passed a rigorous certification process.
Garmin will enable this feature on a country-by-country basis only when it passes the legal requirements for ECG in those countries. As of today, you’re good to go in the USA.
What’s Next for Garmin?
ECG is a sought-after feature by customers, however, the accreditation process is far from straightforward. Garmin will probably push for certification in key geographic markets outside of the USA like the UK and EU but residents in some other countries may never get the feature.
With new Garmin watches in the future, many or most will also have the ECG-capable Elevate v5 sensor. However, that is no guarantee that a premium feature like ECG will automatically be made available. However, I would have thought it most likely that most new watches with v5 will also have ECG in countries that authorize it.
But then what will happen in 2025 when Garmin has its next generation of optical HR sensors? Presumably, certification will not automatically pass to newer models but I seem to recall reading that hardware updates have less onerous tests to pass.
What Does This Mean for Athletes?
The somewhat blase and WRONG view is that “Oh I’m fit and young and my heart is fine”. Many athletes, teenagers included have underlying heart issues.
In the USA it is thought that 800,000 people under the age of 40 have Afib. Cardiac Screening programs may exist in your country, and this one does in the UK.
Older athletes might want to borrow a friend’s Garmin to do the test but it should be noted that the Garmin test requires you to be at least 22 years old.
Just check it out. It’s simple and quick and literally could save your life.
Stop. Sit. Wait. It’s that easy.
— Garmin (@Garmin) October 17, 2023
This content is not sponsored. It’s mostly me behind the labour of love which is this site and I appreciate everyone who follows, subscribes or Buys Me A Coffee ❤️ Alternatively please buy the reviewed product from my partners. Thank you! FTC: Affiliate Disclosure: Links pay commission. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.