The best gadgets to help manage your heart health

The Apple Watch has finally been approved to collect ECG readings in Australia, but in the years since that feature debuted internationally the market has filled with devices ready and waiting to give you information about your heart.

Unlike some other health metrics collected by gadgets like smartwatches and scales, which are more there for entertainment and general information purposes, a lot of the data collected on your heart has the potential to be diagnostically relevant. Amanda Buttery, manager of clinical evidence for the Heart Foundation, welcomes these innovations.

The Apple Watch’s heart monitoring function will soon be switched on in Australia.

The Apple Watch’s heart monitoring function will soon be switched on in Australia.

“The development of smartwatch ECG technology is promising, particularly because atrial fibrillation is known to cause a third of all strokes in Australia,” she said. Atrial fibrillation is a type of arrhythmia in which your heart beats irregularly.

“However, findings from such technology should be interpreted and discussed by a doctor in the context of a person’s overall health.”

Most people who buy smartwatches are under the age of 40, and yet the people who would derive the most benefit from the health features are much more mature than that. The Apple Watch is ideal for iPhone users over the age of 60, who are far too young to need any kind of medical alert necklace, but still want some way to monitor their health and get help if needed.


In addition to the ECG function, which can detect cardiac abnormalities and will be activated in Australia in the coming weeks, the Apple Watch Series 4 and later features fall detection which can automatically call for help. The watch can also send alerts when your cardio fitness drops to a concerning level.

If you want a smartwatch that’s big on health information, but looks more like a traditional watch, the Withings Scanwatch was the first in Australia to have its ECG monitoring feature approved by the TGA. It also does blood oxygen monitoring (like the Apple Watch), but its face is primarily just a very nice analogue watch, with a black circle up the top that can display information when you want it to. All the measurements are synced to the Health Mate app, and can be sent to others like Google Fit or Apple Health, so you can look to see how you’re trending and bring up any concerns with your doctor. Scanwatch doesn’t have fall detection, however, which will be a dealbreaker for many.

But heart health information doesn’t have to come from a wrist-mounted gadget you wear all the time. Withings’ Body Cardio scale will take your heart rate whenever you step on it, as well as your weight and body composition information, and chart it over time. You need to be careful when tying weight to overall health though. While weight can be a factor in heart issues, the weight could just be another symptom of the larger problem, or completely unrelated. Overweight people find it difficult enough to get proper health advice from many doctors, even without getting their heart health advice from a judgy scale.

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