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Apple Watch users rely on blood oxygen data

sandhya@khaleejtimes.com Filed on August 1, 2021

Supplied photo

Supplied photo

If you have an Apple Watch Series 6 and iOS 7 or later, you can use the built-in app oximeter to measure your blood oxygen level that indicates if you are getting enough oxygen to your brain and other vital organs.


Monitoring blood oxygen levels has never been so critical as now especially in post pandemic stage and consumers are increasingly depending on smart devices to monitor actual health metrics such as heart rate and oxygen.

If you have an Apple Watch Series 6 and iOS 7 or later, you can use the built-in app oximeter to measure your blood oxygen level that indicates if you are getting enough oxygen to your brain and other vital organs.

Dr Brajesh Mittal, Consultant Cardiologist, Medcare Hospital Al Safa, says that tracking blood oxygen levels in patients is vital for doctors. “Low oxygen level is an indicator of respiratory distress.”

A typical reading should be somewhere between 95 per cent and 100 per cent. A low percentage of oxygen in the blood can signify a pulmonary or cardiac issue or other related problem like sleep apnea. However, the watch’s ability to monitor blood oxygen using infrared light is not a certified medical device as reported by the giant tech. It should be used for fitness and wellness purposes, not self-diagnosis.

25-year-old baker and student Simran Gajbhiye — whose mother is a covid warrior (health professional) — was gifted an Apple watch.

Gajbhiye said: “My mother is a covid warrior (health professional) and we were at high risk over the pandemic. I use my Apple Watch regularly to check my oxygen levels. As advised by the hospital, I ensure my oxygen saturation level does not fall too low and remotely report on my case if the number drops below 90 per cent. What I did notice comparing my results on oximeter and my watch is that for the most part, the Apple Watch Series 6, when positioned well and without any movement, is fairly accurate, and readings typically matched my fingertip sensors or were within a single percentage point.”

Though Gajbhiye adds that one should not rely only on the smartwatch sensor as the sole source of information. “But it’s fairly reassuring and convenient,” She added.

If you are sick or have a known respiratory issue, the Apple Watch Series 6 provides a quick indication that you should go dig out a dedicated pulse oximeter. It’s a matter of convenience — especially if you wearing your watch on a daily basis. However, be very cautious and take multiple readings. Like any other tool, you need to know how it works for you under good conditions before you rely on it when you might have issues.

If you feel healthy, the data produced by the blood oxygen sensor but also Apple watch’s other reliable features like heart rate and ECG could be life-saving as they have the ability to draw your attention to underlying issues you didn’t know about.

The Blood Oxygen app on your Apple Watch will occasionally measure your blood oxygen levels if background measurements are on. This will usually happen when you are not moving. Depending on how active you are, the number of readings collected each day and the time between these readings will vary. All blood oxygen measurements, whether on-demand or in the background, are saved in the Health app on your iPhone.

Tips to read the blood Oxygen level on an Apple watch

*To take a reading, open the Blood Oxygen app on your watch.

*Make sure your watch is not too low on your wrist and that the band is snug but comfortable.

*Keep your hand and wrist as still as possible during the reading.

*Tap the Start button to begin the scan. The sensor begins with a 15-second countdown.

*If the measurement is successful, the screen will then indicate the percentage of your blood oxygen level. — sandhya@khaleejtimes.com

author

Sandhya D'Mello

Journalist. Period. My interests are Economics, Finance and Information Technology. Prior to joining Khaleej Times, I have worked with some leading publications in India, including the Economic Times.





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