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How to set up heart notifications on Apple Watch

Look upon your watch as your 24/7 cardiologist.
By
October 24, 2022
An Apple Watch Ultra in a user's hand displays the Apple logo.
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

As well as looking trendy on your wrist and telling you the time, an Apple Watch also serves another important function. It acts as your on-call doctor and can alert you to anything suspicious when it comes to your health. It can also nag you to get out of your chair and start exercising, and if you have a car crash, it will even alert the emergency services for you. This article will show you how to set up heart notifications on the Apple Watch and what you should do if you get such a notification.

Read more: Apple Watch buyers guide — everything you need to know

QUICK ANSWER

To set up heart notifications on an Apple Watch, open the Watch app on the paired iPhone. Go to the My Watch tab and select Heart. Set your minimum and maximum heartbeats per minute that are required to trigger a notification.


JUMP TO KEY SECTIONS

What are heart notifications on Apple Watch?

When you get a heart notification, it is telling you that either the minimum or maximum heartbeats per minute that you entered into your iPhone’s Watch app has been met for a minimum period of ten minutes. This may or may not be an indicator of a larger issue. Only you can determine that based on how you feel and your previous medical history. It may be prudent to consult with a doctor as quickly as possible.

How to set up heart notifications on Apple Watch

You can set up heart notifications by doing the following:

  • Open the Watch app on your paired iPhone and go to the My Watch tab.
  • Select Heart. Once there, toggle on Cardio Fitness Notifications and Irregular Rhythm.
  • Underneath that, you will have to specify the minimum and maximum heartbeats per minute that would trigger a notification by your watch.

What you set the minimum and maximum heartbeats per minute to is entirely dependent on your preferences. But based on medical advice from my doctor, I put mine at 120 BPM for the maximum rate and 45 BPM for the minimum rate.

What is an “irregular rhythm” notification?

You will have noticed an Irregular Rhythm setting in one of the previous screenshots. You should definitely enable this, although the notification feature for this is not available in all countries. The main countries in the world are, though.

What is an irregular rhythm? This is when Apple Watch analyzes your heartbeats per minute to see if there is any unusual cardiovascular activity going on. If there is, that may suggest a medical condition called atrial fibrillation.

When you use the ECG app on your Watch, it tells you at the end of the ECG test if it detected any signs of atrial fibrillation. But Apple says that it determines atrial fibrillation based on a series of results, not just one. So if your watch tells you that it detected something, go and see a doctor immediately.

What to do if your Apple Watch gives you a heart notification

apple watch heart notification

So what happens if your watch beeps and tells you that it has detected an unusually low or high heartbeat? Well, the first thing you should not do is freak out. That will just make things potentially worse.

Do I need to go to a hospital or call an ambulance?

It’s important to note, first of all, that Android Authority is not a doctor. So please don’t base your medical decisions on what we tell you here. Everyone has to make their own decisions based on how they feel. Saying that, here is some general background information that may help you.

When your Apple Watch gives you a heart notification, it does not necessarily mean that anything is seriously wrong. If we have been relaxing on the sofa or in bed for hours, our heart rate naturally drops a bit. If we have been out walking or running or are under stress, our heart rate will naturally increase. So it all depends on your current situation, what you’ve been doing, and how you’ve generally been feeling.

The Apple Watch does explicitly say that it does not detect heart attacks. It merely provides statistical information which can help you and your doctor make a medical decision. If you feel unwell at all, err on the side of caution and seek urgent medical attention. Nobody will judge you if it turns out to be a false alarm.

How to use heart notifications to monitor your heart health

heart data health app iPhone

Whenever you get a heart notification or you do an ECG test on your Watch, the results are automatically stored in the Health app on your paired iPhone. You can use this medical history to form a long-term overview of your heart history, which will prove invaluable if you eventually need to seek medical attention.

Results can be filtered down into hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, six months, and annually.


Read more: Apple Watch female health tracking — everything you need to know

FAQs

The heart notifications feature is disabled if the watch and paired iPhone are in Low Power Mode.