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The newcomes with one and app to give you more ways to monitor your heart and respiratory health. Together, they measure your oxygen saturation (SpO2) in your blood – how much oxygen from your lungs your red blood cells take up and are transported to all other parts of the body.
Low blood oxygen levels, or hypoxemia, have been linked tobecause the disease affects your ability to get enough oxygen. Physicians have used SpO2 levels to determine the severity of COVID-19 cases and treat these patients accordingly.
However, hypoxemia can be caused by many other heart and lung problems, such as asthma, pneumonia and congenital heart disease. By monitoring your SpO2, your Apple Watch may alert you to potential health problems before you realize you have them, or at least it’s Apple’s hope anyway.
How to use the Blood Oxygen feature on the Apple Watch Series 6 – it is currently only available for the Series 6, not any other models.
How does the blood oxygen sensor work?
The blood oxygen sensor is built into the back of the Apple Watch. It uses four clusters of red, green and infrared LEDs and four photodiodes, devices that convert light into an electric current. The lights illuminate against the blood vessels in the wrist and the photodiodes measure how much light is bouncing back.
I do not go into the medical specifications, but mainly acidified and oxidized blood absorbs red and infrared light differently, so the light that bounces back allows the Apple Watch to determine the color of your blood.
Light red blood is oxygenated, while dark red blood has less oxygen, either because it has delivered oxygen to your organs and muscles or because it does not get enough oxygen from your lungs.
If you want to dig into exactly how pulse oximeters work, check out this article published in the medical journal Respiratory Medicine.
How do you use the Blood Oxygen app?
With the Apple Watch Series 6, you can read your SpO2 on demand. Just open the app and follow the on-screen instructions.
The reading takes 15 seconds, and when it is complete you will see the percentage of oxygen in the blood appear on the clock screen.
The watch also takes regular readings throughout the day when you are inactive, such as when you are lying on the couch or sleeping. All your blood oxygen readings are synchronized with.
The information in this article is intended for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified healthcare provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goal.