Heart rate 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. 

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

Irregular rhythm notifications

Your Apple Watch will occasionally look at your heart beat to check for an irregular rhythm that might be atrial fibrillation (AFib).

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.

How irregular rhythm notifications work

Apple Watch will occasionally look at your heart beat 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.

Enabling 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. Follow the onscreen steps. If you aren't prompted to set up, tap the Health Data 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, 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.

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.  
  • Apple Watch is not constantly looking for AFib. This means Apple Watch 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.

Here's what you need to enable irregular rhythm notifications

  • Notifications are available in the United States, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • You need Apple Watch Series 1 or later with watchOS 5.1.2 or later paired with iPhone 5s or later with iOS 12.1.1 or later.
  • These notifications are not designed for people who have been diagnosed with AFib.
  • These notifications are not intended for use by people under 22 years old.

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