Image source: Polar

A closer look at PAT: The Polar Vantage V3’s new heart health metric

The Polar Vantage V3 smartwatch equips users with the innovative Pulse Arrival Time (PAT) feature, enhancing heart health monitoring with a metric that has received little fanfare despite its potential.

The timepiece is the latest entrant in the realm of high-performance sports watches, having launched in October 2023. It builds upon the legacy of its predecessor with enhanced features and a refined user experience. The is a watch designed for the serious athlete, offering a robust set of tools to monitor training, recovery, and performance.

Pulse Arrival Time, or PAT, is a relatively new biomarker in the consumer wearable space, indicative of the time it takes for the blood pulse to travel from the heart to another part of the body (in Vantage V3’s case to a user’s wrist). While smart scales have attempted to incorporate PAT measurements, with Withings being the leader, replicating this in smartwatches has been limited until now.

Polar Vantage V3 has an innovative heart health metric

It’s fair to say this innovative heart rate metric has not received much press coverage so far. For some reason, Polar did not make much of it in its marketing materials.

It works by leveraging a combination of ECG sensors and optical heart rate technology. The Vantage V3 captures the precise moment the heart beats and the subsequent arrival of the pulse at the wrist.

What sets the Vantage V3 apart is not just the inclusion of PAT but its potential applications. The metric helps to offer a holistic view of a user’s health and well-being. The measurement of PAT can be an indirect indicator of arterial stiffness and blood pressure changes, which are critical factors in overall cardiovascular health. Perhaps it is a stepping stone until Polar introduces fully fledged blood pressure measurements from the wrist.

Essential readingTop fitness trackers and health gadgets

For now PAT shows only in the Polar Flow app, don’t look for it elsewhere – you won’t find it. Here’s a screenshot of what this looks like. The data can be found in the the Diary. Tapping the card opens the detailed test result view.

Polar Flow PAT

Delving into the results

You get two separate metrics – PAT at contraction and PAT at relaxation. The are measured at two different time points of the pressure wave.

Put simply, PAT is a way to check how healthy your blood vessels are. It can change with things like how old you are, your blood pressure, and how flexible or stiff your arteries are. When we get older, our arteries usually get harder and the pulse gets to our wrist quicker, which means the PAT number gets smaller.

Think of PAT numbers like a health score for your pulse: higher numbers are usually better. Just like heart rate variability (HRV), everyone has their own normal range for PAT. So its worth tracking how these values change over time as compared to your baseline.

It’s also worth noting, PAT can change during the day because of things like what you’re doing, how stressed you are, or if you’ve worked out. Because of this, it is best to take a reading at the same time each day. Right after you wake up might be an ideal opportunity.

Final thoughts

It is good to Polar innovating instead of blindly following the pack. We have seen the ECG feature implemented in a number of different watches in recent years. But, to our knowledge, this is the first time someone has attempted to extract PAT from the data. It will be interesting to see how this technology evolves over time.

If you want a sports watch that does more and performs better, spending an extra $100 on the Vantage V3 instead of the V2 could be a smart move. This device is a big step up in Polar’s sports watch lineup and a strong choice if you’re considering an alternative to the likes of the Garmin Forerunner 965. Both come in at exactly the same $600 price point (view Vantage V3 on Polar’s website).

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Marko Maslakovic

Marko founded Gadgets & Wearables in 2014, having worked for more than 15 years in the City of London’s financial district. Since then, he has led the company’s charge to become a leading information source on health and fitness gadgets and wearables.

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