How to check ECG and blood pressure on the Samsung Galaxy Watch

How to check ECG and blood pressure on the Samsung Galaxy Watch


How to check ECG and blood pressure on the Samsung Galaxy Watch

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 If you have or are thinking about getting a Samsung Galaxy Watch4 or Galaxy Watch5, you should know that they are some of the only smartwatches that can measure both ECG and blood pressure.

Health Canada took a while to approve these features, but as of April 2022, you can use them while the watch is still on your wrist. Just remember that neither of these things is a replacement for medical advice. They aren't qualified to give a definitive diagnosis or to be used as a treatment or a way to keep something from happening.

They are more like early warning systems. If you get a result that seems strange or off, you should see your doctor to find out if it's something to worry about. If you already have a heart condition or high blood pressure, they may be able to give you an idea of where you stand. It's interesting to have that kind of access on your wrist, and it can help your health and wellness in general. Here's how Samsung's latest smartwatch's electrocardiogram (ECG) and blood pressure monitor (BPM) work.

What you'll need to get going

At the moment, the ECG and BPM are only available on the Galaxy Watch4, Galaxy Watch4 Classic, Galaxy Watch5, and Galaxy Watch5 Pro. However, the Watch Active 2 also had these features. Plus, they're only available on Samsung Galaxy phones with Android 7.0 or later.

 If you don't have a Samsung Android phone, you won't be able to use either of these features. Same thing with the iPhone—it doesn't work at all.

Technically, it is possible to put the Samsung Health Monitor app on other Android phones by sideloading it. It needs an APK file to be downloaded and installed on the phone, and then the app needs to be put on the watch. For the last part, you may need to use a computer to "send" it because you can't just download the app from the watch.

I haven't tried this out myself, so I can't say how complicated or effective the process is. 

You can easily find instructions on how to do it online, though. If you want to give it a try, you can do so without hurting the watch or making it less useful.

Getting the Galaxy Watch4 and Galaxy Watch5 ready to go

The easiest way to get started is to swipe up from the watch's home screen and choose the Samsung Health Monitor app. It will tell you to get it from the Galaxy Store and put it on your phone (not Google Play). After you finish that process and any updates that are needed, the phone app will take you to a setup screen. That's just about it. The ECG and BPM both work through the app, which syncs and stores your results.

Using the electrocardiogram (ECG): Like any other ECG, this one's goal is to look at the electrical activity of the heart in people who are at least 22 years old. That could be a sinus rhythm, which means the heartbeat is regular, or atrial fibrillation, which means the heartbeat is not regular. This is different from the watch's built-in heart rate monitor, which measures how many times your heart beats per minute. Even though they both involve the heart, they are measuring different things.

A reading is easy to get. Swipe left on the watch face until the ECG app shows up, then tap it to open it. You put your finger on the home button at the top right of the watch, where it counts down for 30 seconds while reading your heart's electrical activity. When it's done, it tells you if it found sinus rhythm or atrial fibrillation. It also keeps track of your heart rate at the same time to see how many times it beats per minute. This lets you know if your heartbeat was high or not.

A disclaimer makes it clear that you shouldn't change or adjust medications or doses based on the results. In general, you shouldn't do anything on your own until you've talked to a doctor first. Samsung can't say what its ECG does in terms of medicine, so I'd say it's best to use it as an early warning system.

Also, it's best to read when you're calm and not busy. The ECG can't tell you, for example, if you're about to have a heart attack. It can't figure out what the data means or give you any background. So, the best thing to do is to show the results to a doctor.

Using the blood pressure monitor (BPM): The blood pressure monitor checks both the systolic and diastolic blood pressures and the pulse rate. The higher number in a reading is the systolic pressure. It shows how much pressure your blood puts on the walls of your arteries when your heart beats. Diastolic pressure, which is the lower number in a reading, shows how much pressure your blood puts on the walls of your arteries when your heart is at rest between beats.

Unlike the ECG, you need to calibrate the watch's BPM with a real blood pressure monitor, the kind you wrap around your arm. Which one is better? Since you're not actually connecting the monitor to your phone or watch, pretty much any one will do. Here’s how it works: you use the monitor on the arm opposite the arm you’re wearing your watch on. You should try to get three readings done in 30 minutes. The watch sees them and the calibration is done.

Before taking a measurement, it's best to avoid exercise, caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine for 30 minutes. Samsung also says that pregnant women should not use the feature at all. To keep it as accurate as possible, you have to do the same calibration process every 28 days. If you don't, you won't be able to keep taking your blood pressure measurements. The app on your phone and the watch will start sending reminders three days ahead of time.

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