Garmin activates its dormant heart health sensor in more smartwatches

Garmin Venu 3 Sleep tracking
(Image credit: Jerry Hildenbrand)

What you need to know

  • Garmin announced new ECG functionality for the Garmin Venu 3, Epix Pro Gen 2, Fenix 7 Pro, and tactix 7 AMOLED edition on Tuesday.
  • These Garmin watches have FDA approval to detect AFib heart issues using 30-second readings, though not through passive HR detection. 
  • So far, the feature is only available for U.S. buyers.
  • You'll be able to export your history of ECG readings from Garmin Connect to share with your doctor. 

Up until today, only one Garmin watch had the ability to measure for atrial fibrillation (AFib): the Venu 2 Plus. Now, Garmin is expanding its ECG support to several high-end watches released this summer: the Venu 3, Fenix 7 Pro, Epix Pro (Gen 2), and tactix 7 — AMOLED Edition. 

Approved by the FDA in the United States for AFib detection accuracy, the electrocardiogram works via the new Elevate v5 heart rate monitor found in these specific models; you take 30-second heart rhythm readings that are then stored in the Garmin Connect app for later checks and exports. 

Garmin can't add ECG support retroactively to older, popular Garmin watches with last-gen Elevate sensors — that is, unless it implements passive AFib detection through heart rate data, something offered by several competing brands like Samsung, Apple, and Fitbit.

In addition, the "clinically-validated" ECG app is only available to American buyers for now. 

"Garmin intends to continue to expand its portfolio of products supporting the ECG app and launch it in new regions in-line with necessary regulatory approval," a Garmin spokesperson told Android Central when asked about ECG availability in other countries.

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Most of the above watches sit at the high end of Garmin's price range — $900 and up — making the $450 Venu 3 the most accessible option to get this feature. It's also the first to offer Garmin's advanced Sleep Coaching system, which can detect naps and use your heart rate variance (HRV) and sleep stage data to judge your sleep quality and give recommendations.  

When the Venu 3 launched in August, we noted that some health features were "still hibernating." According to wearable experts, the Elevate v5 heart rate sensor is capable of both ECG readings and skin temperature readings. Now that the former is activated, perhaps we can expect the latter sometime soon, improving Sleep Coaching data even further — though Garmin isn't telling.

If you own any of the above watches already, simply update your Garmin watch to the latest version to access the ECG app. 

Michael L Hicks
Senior Editor, VR/AR and fitness

Michael spent years freelancing on every tech topic under the sun before settling down on the real exciting stuff: virtual reality, fitness wearables, gaming, and how tech intersects with our world. He's a semi-reformed Apple-to-Android user who loves running, D&D, and Star Wars. Find him on Twitter at @Michael_L_Hicks.