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How to use the Blood Oxygen app on your Apple Watch

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You’ve come to a good place if you want to learn how to use the Blood Oxygen App on your Apple Watch. The Apple Watch was once a simple smartwatch with a screen that displayed notifications. Now it’s a handy little device we can’t live on without.

The best smartwatch money can buy is the Apple Watch. While it’s not the most expensive model, it’s clear that you get what you pay. It has been the leader in keeping an eye on your health over the years and does a great job tracking your fitness.

The Apple Watch 6 and the Apple Watch 7, will give you the best Apple Watch the company has to provide in wrist smarts. This includes the new blood oxygen sensor. Although it is not a new innovation in wearables, this is the first time Apple offers the ability to measure blood oxygen from a watch.

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If you haven’t done so already, it is obvious that you will want to buy the best iPhone for pairing your Apple Watch. This will allow the watch to monitor the oxygen levels in your blood, and the data will be stored in your Health app. The Blood Oxygen app is not intended to replace professional medical advice and is only for general fitness and wellness.

What’s the deal with measuring blood oxygen levels and what is it all about? What is the best way to measure blood oxygen levels on your Apple Watch? And why would you do it? This article will explain everything you need about the Apple Watch’s Blood Oxygen app and why you might be interested in using it.

What is blood oxygen?

Let’s first define blood oxygen. It simply refers to how much oxygen is in your red blood cells. These cells carry oxygen throughout the body.

The body needs oxygen to function properly. The body may not be getting enough oxygen, which can lead to problems in performing certain functions.

What causes blood oxygen levels to drop?

Blood oxygen levels can drop for many reasons. Infections like pneumonia, respiratory viruses, and asthma can all affect the body’s ability get oxygen to where it is needed. This can lead to levels falling.

High altitude environments can cause blood oxygen levels to drop. This can lead to symptoms such as headaches, dizziness and confusion, as well as shortness of breath.

It is rare for people to have blood oxygen levels too high. This would usually be associated with someone who needs assisted oxygen support.

How do you use the Apple Watch’s blood oxygen data?

Apple now allows you to take spot measurements and monitor your blood oxygen levels while awake and asleep. Apple claims that the data and measurements from its blood oxygen sensor are not intended for use in general fitness or wellness. The Apple Watch is not intended to be used in the same way as a pulse oximeter to provide more detailed health information that may indicate some problems related to low blood oxygen levels. It isn’t, at least not yet.

What does Apple mean when it says “general fitness and wellbeing purposes”? Apple does not go into detail about this, so it is open to interpretation. It could be used in the altitude scenario, where it monitors your body’s oxygen levels in lower oxygen concentrations to determine how it is responding. Garmin has a pulse ox sensor in all of its watches.

This could be a sign that you are in training recovery mode, particularly since there is an increase in oxygen consumption during exercise. A slight drop in blood oxygen may indicate that you are still recovering from a hard workout or block of training. This may prompt you to take a rest day before getting back into it.

Apple won’t ask you whether you are going on a hike at high elevation or if you are working out harder than usual. It is up to the user to make the most of the data if they find it insightful and useful.

This is not data that you will need to use during exercise. It won’t offer any real value, and it’s actually quite difficult to measure the movement. We’ll discuss more of this later.

What is the normal blood oxygen level?

Your measurements will be displayed as a percentage, just like other smartwatches or fitness trackers that can measure blood oxygen levels. Apple and the WHO , which are key health bodies such as the WHO, consider a normal blood oxygen level to be 95-100%. If your blood oxygen level is below this, it could indicate a problem. Apple reiterates that its app, sensors, and measurements cannot be used for medical purposes.

What Apple Watch can measure blood oxygen levels?

The Apple Watch 6, 7 and 7 are currently the only ones that can monitor blood oxygen levels. The Apple Watch 8, and the next-generation Apple Watch SE both have the same sensor technology.

The Blood Oxygen app can be downloaded in some countries and regions . You can find here (opens new tab). Apple claims that the feature is intended for users over 18 years old.

What does the Apple Watch do to measure blood oxygen levels

The optical heart rate sensor on the back of Apple Watch Series 6 or 7 is the technology that makes this all possible. The process is similar to its heart rate sensor but it’s all about light.

The sensor shines infrared and red LEDs onto the wrist to indicate that it is time for a measurement. This light does not travel through the body, unlike pulse oximeters. Instead, photodiodes convert light into electricity and measure the amount of light reflected back to watch’s back.

The algorithms of Apple then use this data to determine the colour of the blood. The oxygen in bright red blood, or Arterial blood has a higher level than that of dark red veins.

It can then take measurements of oxygen-rich blood from the heart, and send it around the body to calculate the percentage.

(Image credit: Michael Sawh)

How to measure blood oxygen on the Apple Watch

First, make sure that your Apple Watch has the most recent version of WatchOS. Also, ensure that you have an iPhone 6S running iOS 14.

Next, open the Watch app and go to the My Watch section. Scroll down until you find the Blood Oxygen App and click to open. You can then toggle the ability to measure blood oxygen.

The Watch can also be set to measure blood oxygen during sleep tracking or in Cinema modes. You can also turn it off if the red light used for tracking it becomes annoying.

Select the Blood Oxygen app from your Apple Watch. You’ll receive some tips if this is your first time taking a measure.

It is important to ensure your Watch fits snugly on your wrist, but not too tightly. Your watch’s screen should be facing upwards. Also, placing your wrist on a table or a piece of furniture can help improve the readings.

Once you are ready to take a reading click the digital crown. It will take approximately 15 seconds. After you are done, you will receive a reading in percentage. You can also view your data on the Apple Health app.

(Image credit: Michael Sawh)

Apple Health: Where can I find the blood oxygen measurement?

You can view a complete record of all readings, as well as a refresher of what the data mean, by opening the Apple Health app on iPhone. Click on Browse, then click on Vitals. You can view all data if you have taken blood oxygen measurements or monitored it while you sleep.

You can also view daily, weekly and monthly data. You can also see blood oxygen levels over the same period by selecting Show More Blood Oxygen data.

(Image credit: Apple)

Is there another Apple Watch app that can use the blood oxygen sensor as well?

Apple’s Blood Oxygen app is the best way to use that blood oxygen sensor at this time. However, that doesn’t mean it won’t change in future.

It wouldn’t surprise if Apple’s blood oxygen sensor was used in a similar fashion to the heart rate monitor technology. There are many apps that make use of it.

Apple will have to allow developers access, and only time will tell if this will happen in a future watchOS software update.

How precise is it to measure blood oxygen from your wrist?

Although it’s wonderful that Apple can offer this data, is it reliable? It’s using the same method to measure blood oxygen as light-based technology that measures heart rate from the wrist. This can lead to some problems in terms of getting accurate data, or any data at all.

Apple lists some factors that can affect your ability to get reliable measurements. These include having tattoos and low skin perfusion. This could be due to being in cold environments. If your heart rate is high, you may not be able to get accurate readings.

As with other smartwatches or fitness trackers, motion and movement can have an impact on readings. This is likely why Fitbit and Apple choose to measure sleep during motion when the motion issue is less.

A pulse oximeter, which is a device that rests on the tip of your finger to take non-invasive measurements, is preferred in medical settings. It’s thought to help reduce potential problems you might experience at your wrist.

The dedicated pulse oximeters use a different method to measure blood oxygen. They send two wavelengths through the body, rather than the light reflection method used in Apple, Garmin, Fitbit, and Huawei. The blood is also closer to the skin surface of the finger, making it easier to measure.

Apple has not stated how accurate its blood oxygen sensor is. It won’t likely get into the accuracy discussion until it makes it suitable for medical-grade measurements such as its ECG heart rate sensor.

 

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