How to use the Apple Blood Oxygen app for blood oxygen measurements

September 17, 2020

While wellness alone does not constitute the complete basis of your health, it is one of the vital elements for making progress towards a healthy & fulfilling life. Smart devices have made it possible to get insights into overall wellness in an instant. For example, Apple’s latest Watch Series – Apple Watch 6 provides insights into the overall wellness of a person via Blood oxygen measurements. Read further to know how to monitor your blood oxygen measurement through the Apple Blood Oxygen app.

Blood Oxygen App
Blood Oxygen App

How blood oxygen measurements are done using the Blood Oxygen app?

Apple Watch Series 6 comes equipped with an optical heart sensor. When linked digitally to the Blood Oxygen app on your iPhone, it adds blood oxygen measurement capabilities to the smartwatch. During the measurement, the back-crystal shines red and green LEDs and infrared light onto your wrist. Photodiodes then measure the amount of light reflected, thereby calculating the Apple Watch Blood Oxygen accuracy.

How to use the Apple Blood Oxygen app?

Blood Oxygen Measurement
Blood Oxygen Measurement

You can take a blood oxygen measurement at any time with the Blood Oxygen app. All measurements, whether on-demand or in the background done through the app are saved to the Health app on your iPhone.

  1. Make sure that your Apple Watch is snug but comfortable on your wrist.
  2. Tap the Blood Oxygen app on your Apple Watch to open it.
  3. Keep your wrist flat with the Apple Watch facing up. Stay still during the complete exercise.
  4. Hit the Start button and keep your arm steady for 15 seconds.
  5. At the end of the exercise, Advanced algorithms will analyze the captured data to calculate the color of your blood and determine Apple Watch pulse oximeter accuracy. Bright red blood has more oxygen, while dark red blood has less.
  6. The results will be visible to you.
  7. Tap Done.
  8. To see complete details, go to the Health app.
  9. Tap Browse > Respiratory > Blood Oxygen.
Oxygen Levels
Oxygen Levels

Here, you can configure the Apple Watch to view measurements taken either during the sleeping time or in a high-elevation environment.

What are blood oxygen measurements and its types?

Measurement of oxygen levels in your blood is called blood oxygen measurement or oxygen saturation level. Maintaining the precise balance of oxygen-saturated blood in your body is considered vital for your overall health. Most children and adults don’t need to monitor their blood oxygen levels. However, people with chronic health conditions may need to monitor their blood oxygen level, especially when signs of a problem, like shortness of breath or chest pain, are reported.

Which types of tests are recommended for measuring oxygen saturation level in blood?

Oxygen Saturation Level
Oxygen Saturation Level

2 main types of tests measure the blood oxygen levels, namely -

  • Arterial blood gas - ABG, also known as Arterial Blood Gas test, is a blood test. It detects the level of other gases in your blood, alongside oxygen gas. It also measures the pH (acid/base level). The test has a remarkably high accuracy rate but it’s invasive. To get an ABG measurement, the doctor draws blood from an artery rather than a vein. The arterial blood is oxygen-rich and hence, recommended for the test!
  • Pulse oximeter - A pulse oximeter (pulse ox) test is noninvasive. It uses a device that estimates the amount of oxygen in your blood. It does so by sending infrared light into capillaries in your finger, toe, or earlobe. Then it measures how much light is reflected off the gases. This test, in comparison to ABG, is slightly less accurate (has a 2 percent error window with a normal reading ranging typically between 95 and 100 percent) but very easy to perform. Moreover, doctors rely on it for fast readings.

Note - Apple Watch spO2 accuracy measurements are for general fitness and wellness purposes only.

Source - Apple.


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Hemant Saxena
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