Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Apple Watch Heart Rate Inconsistent

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People who get irregular pulse notifications on an Apple Watch but dont have atrial fibrillation the condition the feature focuses on detecting could still have another type of problem with their heartbeat, according to a new study.

The findings show that even if someone with a concerning alert from their Apple Watch doesnt get an atrial fibrillation diagnosis, they may not be in the clear, says study author Marco Perez, the director of the Inherited Arrhythmia Clinic at Stanford University Medical Center. Even if you didnt find atrial fibrillation, we were finding a lot of people who had something else that probably needed some clinical attention, he says.

The analysis, published in the journal Circulation, was done using data from the Apple Heart Study, which was designed to test the Apple Watchs ability to detect irregular heart rhythms. It launched in 2017 and included over 400,000 participants. In the study, anyone who got an irregular pulse notification from the watch was sent a clinical ECG patch, which could monitor their heart rhythm over a longer period of time. About 2,000 participants got an irregular pulse notification, and an earlier analysis showed that around a third of those people who then wore an ECG patch had atrial fibrillation show up during that monitoring period.

How Irregular Rhythm Notifications Work

The irregular rhythm notification feature on your Apple Watch will occasionally look at your heartbeat to check for an irregular rhythm that may be AFib. This usually happens when youre still to ensure a more accurate reading. Depending on how active you are, the number of readings collected each day and the time between these readings will vary.

Patient Characteristics And Exercise Capacity

A total of 40 patients were included in this study. All patients had established cardiovascular disease: ischemic heart disease , valvular heart disease , and other type of heart disease . Further patient characteristics are depicted in Table 1. All participants performed the exercise test until exhaustion. Numeric test results are summarized in Table 2.

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Heart Rate Not Recording Data During Workout

If your Apple Watch is not recording your heart rate during a workout, theres a simple fix for this.

First, check to see how your watch band fits.

Is it too loose? Too tight? For your Apple Watch to check your heart rate, the sensor needs to connect with your skin.

So make sure your watch band fits just right. If it is too loose, the sensor wont be able to record your heart rate.

But if your watch fits perfectly, then go ahead and restart your Apple Watch.

After your watch restarts, go check to see if it records your heart rate during a workout.

If your Apple Watch still isnt recording your heart rate during a workout, then lets check your iPhones privacy settings.

  • Open the Settings app on your iPhone, and scroll down to Privacy.
  • Scroll down to Motion & Fitness and make sure that both Fitness Tracking and Health are on.
  • Once you make sure those settings are on, open the Watch app on your iPhone.

  • First, you want to check to see if Workout Power Saving Mode is on. If it is, you need to turn it off. To do so, scroll down to Workout and if it is on, turn it off.
  • Next, you want to check if Heart Rate and Fitness Tracking are on. Go to the Privacy tab and confirm those features are on.
  • Lastly, make sure Wrist Detection is on. Go to Passcode and make sure that it is on.
  • If any of those settings were incorrect, that is most likely the reason why your Apple Watch was not recording your heart rate.

    Check For Grime On Skin Or Other Sensor Obstructions

    Some Apple Watch Users Experiencing Issues With Inconsistent Heart Rate ...

    Another frequent reason why Apple Watch may offer inaccurate readings is if the Apple Watch light sensors on the back of the device are obstructed, whether its grime, heavy dirt, film, undried lotions, or sunblock. From personal experience, certain brands of sunblock can cause the Apple Watch heart rate reading to be way off, so if you exercise with the Apple Watch outdoors and wear sunblock, youll want to be mindful of that being a possible cause of an inaccurate hear rate reading. This seems to be particularly true with the greasier sunblock types that are sort of shiny on application, typically found with waterproof varieties, whereas the sunblock creams that dry out and dont leave the skin all shiny usually are fine.

    A Bug? A Software Solution?

    As hinted at earlier, its also possible that some software issues may cause the Apple Watch heart rate monitor to be inaccurate, so be sure you install WatchOS updates when theyre available for Apple Watch to get any potential bug fixes or improvements to the devices capabilities. For example, a future Apple Watch update could discard the very first heart rate glance reading which is typically the inaccurate one, and only show the accurate BPM after that.

    For what its worth, Ive tried resetting and erasing the Apple Watch to set it up as new again, and it didnt make a difference in the heart rate reading ability, so unless the feature isnt working at all for you, that troubleshooting step is likely to be fruitless.

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    Apple Watch: The Inconsistent Frequency Of Heart Rate Measurements Is A Feature Not A Bug

    Since the release of Watch OS 1.0.1, users have reported that the frequency of heart rate measurements was less consistent than before the update, but in a support document updated today, Apple notes that it is an intended feature, rather than a bug.

    The support document, first spotted by 9to5mac, notes that Apple Watch attempts to measure your heart rate every 10 minutes, but wont record it when youre in motion or your arm is moving, essentially saying that the lack or heart rate recordings for extended periods of time is an intentional feature of the device.

    Prior to the software update, Apple Watch would check heart rate every 10 minutes or so, depicting a consistent picture of a users vital throughout the day.

    Were not sure what the reason behind this change is. Some attribute it to the fact that Apple wants to be even more conservative on power management, but heart rate measurements at 10 minutes intervals had a negligible impact on battery life to begin with.

    Besides, the fact that Apple Watch wont check your heart rate when youre in motion or when your arm is moving seems to be counter intuitive. Isnt the goal to measure your heart rate when youre actually moving? If Apple Watch is going to frequently check my heart rate when Im sitting on the couch watching TV, Im not certain it will be providing meaningful data about my health.

    Is The Issue With Your Apple Watchs Sensor

    If you have tried all of our previous suggestions on fixing your Apple Watchs heart rate, then the issue may be with your watchs sensor.

    The sensor is on the back of the watch itself. In the past, you may have noticed a green or red light there from time to time. Thats the sensor!

    To check to see if the sensor is working, you should first check your heart rate in the Heart Rate app.

    If everything looks normal, the issue might be due to the delay from the Workout app.

    But if the Heart Rate chart is inconsistent, then the issue is definitely due to the sensor.

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    Be Sure The Apple Watch Band Has A Snug Fit

    The most common cause of Apple Watch providing inaccurate heart rate readings appears to be due to the fit of the Watch band itself. A loosely fitting band that moves around at all, or that has notable gaps between the Watch and the skin, can easily cause an inaccurate reading. For the most accurate heart rate readings, you will want to be sure youre wearing the Apple Watch fairly snug against your skin, which is a bit easier with the Apple Watch Sport bands and various bands with magnetic latches rather than some of the other bands, particularly the link bracelet. If you dont have an Apple Watch Sport band, you can for considerably cheaper than what youd pay at Apple for an official plastic band. Whatever band you use, just be sure it fits snug for the best results.

    Make Sure Heart Rate Tracking Is On

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    To get background heart rate readings, Wrist Detection must be enabled. On your iPhone, open the Watch app, go to Passcode, and check to see if Wrist Detection is turned on.

    If youre relying on your Apple Watch to track your heart rate during workouts, you cant use the Power Saving Mode. Open the Watch app on your iPhone, go to Workout, and make sure the Power Saving Mode is disabled.

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    How To Use Wrist Heart Rate Data Effectively

    While tracking your heart rate is flawed outside a lab, that doesnt mean its completely worthless to your training. In fact, heart rate training can be an incredibly effective tool to personalize your training and improve your performances, so long as you understand it, customize it for your own body in practice, and not let it rule every run. Heres how.

    What To Do When None Of The Above Helps

    I tried all of the suggestions above. However, I was skeptical that any of them would work, because Id seen a slow degeneration in the reliability of my watch to read my heartbeat while using my watch for the same workout over the same route for months.

    I concluded that my watch heart rate sensor was defective. Luckily my Apple Watch Series 3 was still covered by AppleCare. I took it in to our local Apple Premium Service Provider. As I expected, defective Apple Watches are returned to Apple for repair or replacement. Before sending it back, I unpaired the Watch from my iPhone , which backs up the Watch contents to the phone.

    After a week turnaround, Apple sent back a new replacement watch. It was a little strange not wearing a watch for a week, and it was interesting to see the limited workout data provided by my iPhone compared to what I was used to from my watch.

    Im happy to report that the replacement watch now works perfectly during my workout. Figure 3 shows the continuous heart rate chart shown by the new watch. And Figure 4 compares typical charts from the old and new watch.

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    Try Cleaning The Watchs Sensors

    Before you do anything drastic, try giving your watch and its sensor a good cleaning.

    The best way to clean your Apple Watch is to wipe it with a nonabrasive, lint-free cloth. You can lightly dampen the cloth with some water, a 70 percent isopropyl alcohol wipe, or Clorox Disinfecting wipe.

    All you need is a little bit of water to clean your watch. You should not use soap or other cleaning products to clean your Apple Watch. While youre at it, you might as well clean your watch band too!

    Make Sure That Wrist Detection Is On

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    If Wrist Detection is off, you won’t get Stand notifications, and your Apple Watch can’t track your Stand progress. Background heart rate readings won’t be taken if Wrist Detection is off.

    To check the setting, open the Watch app on your iPhone. Tap the My Watch tab, then tap Passcode. Make sure that Wrist Detection is on.

    Resting and walking heart rates are available only on Apple Watch Series 1 or later.

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    Keep Your Personal Information Up To Date

    Your Apple Watch uses your personal information such as your height, weight, gender, and age to calculate how many calories you burn and more.

    To update your personal information, open the Watch app on your iPhone. Tap the My Watch tab, then tap Health > Health Details. Tap Edit, then tap the item that you want to change.

    Question: Q: Inconsistent / Low Heart Rate Readings

    I have been using the Apple watch for the past few weeks now and I have been noticing some unusually low heart readings which I believe to be an inconsistency rather than a true reading. The readings will sometimes show 80bpm and in the same minute, it will show somewhere in the 40’s and then straight back to 80bpm. They don’t happen very often but they are showing on my dashboard as my minimum which makes finding my real minimum HR rather tedious as I first have to go and delete the low reading.

    I was using the watch during a yoga session and noticed that the HR was rather low for a period of time – when I noticed it, I was in a static position with my arms completely straight so I took my own pulse and my HR was in fact about 100 bpm when the watch was reading between 40 and 50. It took a minute and the watch HR returned to normal but this is causing my average HR for the session to be lower than it should be.

    I dont have any tattoos or anything which might interfere with the contact and I wear the watch snuggly throughout the day, but tighten it when starting a workout. I was wondering if anyone else has come across this issue and has figured out a way to resolve this?

    42mm Space Grey Sport

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    The Limitations Of Wrist

    Although wrist-based technology is generally more convenient and comfortable than a chest-strap monitor, being that its still relatively new, its not without issues, especially when accuracy is concerned.

    For one, in order to use heart rate data effectively, you need a current set point to base your training around. Many commonly-used methods utilize maximum heart rate, but in order to use a watch to estimate that accurately, you have to be able to safely conduct a maximal effort test on your own. This is challenging and medically inadvisable for some populations such as those new to the sport or those with preexisting heart conditions.

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    Even then, it depends on how much physical and physiological data your device is using, says Kaitlyn Bishop, exercise physiologist. If youre also inputting your resting rate, your age, your sex, your lean mass, body fat, weight, all of these measures are going to make it more accurate. But most of the time, because its a consumer item, its not that advanced.

    The reasoning green is that its more stable and easier to get a good reading when youre moving, says Mattson. However, this green light has a shorter wavelength than the more powerful infrared lights hospital-grade trackers use, and it is also more readily absorbed by melanin, a naturally-occurring pigment often found in people with darker skin tones.

    Tips To Improve Your Apple Watchs Heart Rate Accuracy During Exercise

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    Surprisingly, a recent clinical study indicated that consumer-grade wearables like the Apple Watch were more accurate than research-grade wearables when a person is at rest. However, those same consumer wearables showed a higher error occurrence during activity and in particular, when responding to changes in a persons activity.

    Update your watchOS to its latest version

    Each time Apple releases a software update, they include changes that improve your watchs performance, including the way it receives and interprets data from its sensors.

    So, if you havent updated your watch in a while, now is a good time!

    Get good and consistent skin contact

    Your watchs sensors need direct skin contact to work. Verify that the watch is contacting the skin and place the watch above the wrist bone. It should be snug AND comfortableyou dont want it too loose or too tight.

    If you have any tattoos or large birthmarks, try placing your watch away from these areas.

    Wearing your watch on the inside of your wrist helps some people get better measurements.

    Watch out in cold temperatures

    Colder temperatures decrease your bodys blood flow and can impact your watchs heart rate sensor accuracy. If you exercise in the cold, the blood flow in your wrist might be too low for your watchs heart rate sensor to get a reading.

    You get more accurate readings when exercising in mild to warm temperatures.

    Keep your wrist and arm movements steady

    Update your watch to a newer model

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    Apple Watch Misleading Low Heart Rate Warnings

    Cheryl Beck

    Ive had my series 4 watch since mid August and have been especially monitoring my heart and sleep. Ive gotten a fair amount of low heart warnings which prompted me to follow up with cardiologist since Ive also had a lot of dizzy spells. After wearing a heart monitor for two weeks I was diagnosed with supraventricular Tachycardia high heart rate reaching 200 over 60 times. Im shocked my watch didnt pick on that at alland gave me low warnings instead. I know the watch isnt a medical device but Im disappointed I cant rely on the information given. Now its just an expensive watch.

    With a heart rate all over the map did tour cardiologist suggest a loop recorder. Its a medical device. Frankly if Im sleeping Im sleeping and only rely on heart rate for workouts.

    If Your Watch Is Flaky Reading Heart Rate During Workouts

    Clean the sensors on the back. The two that read your heart rate during exercise are the white LEDs at 3 and 9 oclock that you may have noticed flashing green from time to time.

    Make sure that the watch is snug on your wrist.

    Apple says that cold weather conditions can make reading your heart rate less reliable. If the flakiness of your heart rate monitor seems to be worse on cold days, try wearing warmer clothing on the arm where its fastened.

    If your heart rate monitor is still flaky, try the approved Apple resetting options listed here.

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