Heart health notifications on your Apple Watch

You can enable notifications from the Heart Rate app on your Apple Watch to alert you to high or low heart rates and irregular heart rhythms.

High and low heart rate notifications

If your heart rate remains above or below a chosen beats per minute (BPM) while you appear to have been inactive for a period of 10 minutes, your Apple Watch can notify you. These notifications are available only on Apple Watch Series 1 or later for ages 13 and up.

You can turn on heart rate notifications when you first open the Heart Rate app on your Apple Watch, or at any time later from your iPhone:

  1. On your iPhone, open the Apple Watch app.
  2. Tap the My Watch tab, then tap Heart.
  3. Tap High Heart Rate, then choose a BPM. 
  4. Tap Low Heart Rate, then choose a BPM.

Learn from the American Heart Association about what can cause a high heart rate or a low heart rate.

Irregular rhythm notifications

The irregular rhythm notification feature on your Apple Watch will occasionally look at your heartbeat to check for an irregular rhythm that might be suggestive of atrial fibrillation (AFib). Learn how to enable irregular rhythm notifications. Irregular rhythm notifications are currently available only in certain countries and regions. Learn where irregular rhythm notifications are available.

Here's what you need to enable irregular rhythm notifications

 

Heart settings on iPhone.

How to enable irregular rhythm notifications

  1. Make sure that the software on your iPhone and Apple Watch is up to date.
  2. On your iPhone, open the Health app.
  3. Tap the Browse tab, then go to Heart > Irregular Rhythm Notifications. 
  4. Once enabled, you can turn irregular rhythm notifications on or off in the Apple Watch app on your iPhone: Open the Apple Watch app, tap the My Watch tab, then go to Heart > Irregular Rhythm.

What to do when you receive an alert

If you receive a notification, the irregular rhythm notification feature on your Apple Watch identified an irregular rhythm suggestive of AFib and confirmed it with multiple readings.

If you have not been diagnosed with AFib by a physician, you should talk to your doctor.

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 you’re 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.

What is AFib

AFib is a type of irregular heart rhythm. AFib occurs when the heart beats in an irregular pattern. It’s a common form of irregular heart rhythm where the upper chambers of the heart beat out of sync with the lower chambers. 

According to the CDC, approximately 2% of people younger than 65 years old and 9% of people 65 and older have AFib. Irregularities in heart rhythm become more common as people get older. Some individuals with AFib don’t experience any symptoms. Others experience symptoms that could include rapid heartbeat, palpitations, fatigue, or shortness of breath.

AFib can be temporary or persistent, and people with AFib often live healthy, active lives. AFib episodes can be prevented through regular physical activity, eating a heart-healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and treating other medical conditions that could worsen AFib. If left untreated, AFib can lead to heart failure or blood clots that may lead to stroke. AFib can be managed with a doctor’s care and medication, and early diagnosis and treatment can prevent such complications.

Learn more about AFib from the American Heart Association.

Things you should know

  • Apple Watch cannot detect heart attacks. If you ever experience chest pain, pressure, tightness, or what you think is a heart attack, call emergency services immediately.  
  • The irregular rhythm notification feature on Apple Watch is not constantly looking for AFib. This means it cannot detect all instances of AFib, and people with AFib may not get a notification.
  • If you’re not feeling well, you should talk to your doctor even if you don’t get a notification. Symptoms such as a rapid, pounding, or fluttering heartbeat, dizziness, or fainting, can indicate a serious condition.  
  • Do not change your medication without talking to your doctor.
  • In some instances, the notification may indicate the presence of an irregular heart rhythm other than AFib.

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