Garmin has a feature on a selection of its wearables that could potentially save your life. In this article we explain how to enable the Garmin abnormal heart rate alert. This allow you to be notified if your heart exceeds specified values while you are at rest.
Garmin: Abnormal heart rate alert – top threshold
This is similar to what you will get on the Apple Watch. If you’re inactive for 10 minutes or more and your device detects that your heart rate has gone above and stayed above your entered threshold, the device can alert you.
If you have a compatible Garmin watch, the feature will already be there. This is what you need to do.
Those with a Vivosmart 3, Vivomove 3 or Vivosport will need to open Heart Rate Settings on the watch. Turn on Abnormal Heart Rate Alerts, and choose a heart rate threshold. The default value is 100 beats per minute.
If you have a watch from the Vivoactive range you will need to swipe up on the watch face to access the heart rate widget. Hold the screen to open the menu, select Heart Rate Settings>Abnormal Heart Rate, turn the alert on and choose the desired threshold.
Finally, those with one of the Forerunner 645 watches, the Forerunner 935 or Fenix range will need to press down key until the heart rate widget appears. Hold the up key to open the menu, select Heart Rate Options>Abnormal Heart Rate, turn on the alert and optionally adjust the threshold value.
Its important not to confuse these with alerts you would get from a certified medical device. Nevertheless, its a useful feature that can alert people to a potential problem.
Garmin: Abnormal heart rate alert – bottom threshold
Some Garmins can also alert to abormally low heart rate. These are the compatible watches:
- Fenix 6 Series
- Forerunner 45/45S
- Forerunner 245/245 Music
- Forerunner 945
- MARQ Series
- Tactix Delta Series
- vivoactive 4/4S
- vivoactive Legacy Hero series
- vivoactive Legacy Saga Series
- vivomove 3/3S
- vivomove Style
- vivomove Luxe
- vivosmart 4
Once again, the instructions for switching on the functionality depend on which device you own. But it’s similar to how you set up high heart rate alerts.
For example, if you have the Fenix 6 Series you’ll need to scroll down to the Heart Rate widget. Hold the Up button until the options menu pops up. Then you’ll need to select Heart Rate Options and Abnormal Heart Rate Alert. Turn on Low or High Alert and enter the thresholds. Detailed instructions for each watch on this list can be found on this link.
Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets
It’s worth noting, the lowest you can go for the bottom threshold is 40 bpm (beats per minute). Now while this might seem very low and a potential indicator of a condition such as tachycardia or bradycardia, it might be perfectly normal for a Garmin owner. Many trained athletes have heart rates that dip into the 30s at rest.
The question was raised on a Garmin forum, with a suggestion of providing an option to set a lower number.
“Your feedback will be taken into consideration as we continue to develop this feature, but I cannot promise a change.” was the response from the Garmin moderator.
“This was designed to work for as many customers as possible while delivering the greatest accuracy that we can. I apologize that our current settings do not work for you and the frustration this causes.”
So for now, 40 bpm will remain as the lowest value. It should work for the general population but if you’re a well trained athlete you might want to give this functionality a miss.
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