Garmin first rolled out electrocardiogram (ECG) measurements on the Venu 2 Plus in January 2023, and now after a surprisingly long wait four more watches have got this feature: the Epix Pro, Fenix 7 Pro, Tactix 7 AMOLED and Venu 3/3S.
The feature is only available in the USA, because Garmin has FDA approval for its ECG measurements but is not yet certified anywhere else. You need to be in the USA to enable the feature, but according to DC Rainmaker once you activate it in the US you can then take ECG measurements anywhere in the world.
Only watches with Garmin’s latest optical heart rate sensor—the Elevate V5—are able to take ECG measurements, so it’s not going to be rolled out to other watches. The feature also requires a wire connected internally to the bezel on the watch, where you place your finger and thumb to take the measurement.
To set up the feature you need to go to the settings for your device within the Garmin Connect app and click on ‘Finish Setup’, where enabling the ECG measurements is now a new option. From there you’ll be guided through the process of adding the measurements to your watch.
Then to take a measurement you have to fire up the ECG app and hold your finger and thumb on the bezel for 30 seconds. You’ll see a waveform of your heart rate during this time, and if you move around too much or remove your fingers the reading will fail.
Like all ECG features on watches, Garmin’s measurement will tell you if it detected normal sinus rhythm or atrial fibrillation (Afib). If you get the latter result it’s something you should check with your doctor. As the watch will remind you during the measurement process, it cannot detect heart attacks.
ECG measurements have become a common feature on smartwatches and sports watches since Apple added it to the Apple Watch Series 4 in 2018. Several other brands offer the feature, including Fitbit and Withings, while Polar is bringing it to its range with the new Vantage V3 watch.
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Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.