How to Fix Apple Watch Heart Rate Monitor Not Working

A question from Jim: I purchased an Apple Watch 5 and the heart rate monitor is totally out of accuracy. I purchased it for the heart function of the watch as I have a very low resting heart rate. So, when I’m sat, my heart rate is 50bpm and the watch is saying 92bpm. Does anyone know if this is a software issue or do I have a faulty watch? Thanks in advance.

How accurate is Apple Watch heart rate?

Let’s be honest: the heart rate monitor on your Apple Watch sucks. That’s probably why you’re here anyway. People with heart conditions such as Arrhythmia need to keep track of their heart rate. It is even more crucial to have a device that can accurately record these data.

Emma Truscott asked a question

Hi can anyone tell me how accurate the heart rate is, only I keep getting notifications that my heart beat has been dropping to 46 whilst sleeping, last night I had 6 notifications of it being between 46-49.

I don’t feel it’s always accurate. There’s times I’m sitting at my desk and it says 42, and i know for sure it is not. Other times, it’ll randomly say. 185.. And I’d feel it if my heart was beating that fast.

Ashley Ketcham

I have heart issues (I take meds for my heart rate which is “normally” around 130+ without drugs). Apple Watch has been spot on with catching the breakthrough episodes I’ve been having + has even gone as far as logging a “workout session” during one episode. Luckily my cardio believes Apples data + increased meds + added more.

Erin Nicklas

I can confirm it matches medical equipment as I am currently in hospital hooked up to monitors and the watch matches every change.

Anthony Duffy

With reports of inaccuracy, missing data, and failure to monitor heart rate at a certain time, many users are on the verge of returning their Apple Watch.

Before you do that, though, it doesn’t hurt to follow a few simple tricks below to get the heart rate monitor on the Apple Watch to work again or at least a bit better than before. I hope these fixes will help.

How to Fix Incorrect Heart Rate Readings

Make sure you’re not wearing your Apple Watch too loosely. This can affect the sensor in the back of the watch. Before a workout, check the band and tighten it. When the exercise is over, you can lose it up a bit. In addition to tightening your Apple Watch, you should also clean the sensor so that it can give a better result.

Morgan Williams asked a question

Anyone have issues with the heart rate not working and the stand goal not working? I’m in a challenge with a bunch of people. Last night after my work put it only tracked 10 minutes of it. I was able to close all my rings by doing some yoga. Today it hasn’t counted one standing hour. I’m so frustrated! I’ve done everything google/forums tells you to.

Watch needs to be snug, as in no light being able to get between your skin and the back of the watch. Also make sure you’re wearing it properly on top of the wrist as that’s where the sensors are designed for…capillary perfusion is different on underside of wrist for example. Tattoos can affect accuracy, as can scabs, scars, or dead skin. Try other arm, if need be. Some people’s skin has properties that prevent light from reflecting back properly and simply can’t wear wrist based trackers, though that’s rare.

Gene Stalnecker

Depending on how loose you’re wearing your watch on your wrist, can cause false readings; the snugger the better.

Roger Helmbwrecked

I have had the same problem as well. Every few days I would get a high reading. I cleaned the sensor and so far so good.

Mats Aronsson

Apple Watch Misleading Low Heart Rate Warnings

Cheryl Beck

I’ve had my series 4 watch since mid August and have been especially monitoring my heart and sleep. I’ve gotten a fair amount of low heart warnings which prompted me to follow up with cardiologist since I’ve also had a lot of dizzy spells. After wearing a heart monitor for two weeks I was diagnosed with supraventricular Tachycardia – high heart rate reaching 200 over 60 times. I’m shocked my watch didn’t pick on that at all…and gave me low warnings instead. I know the watch isn’t a medical device but I’m disappointed I cant rely on the information given. Now it’s just an expensive watch.

With a heart rate all over the map did tour cardiologist suggest a loop recorder. It’s a medical device. Frankly if I’m sleeping I’m sleeping and only rely on heart rate for workouts.

Karen Carr

I also have the 4 and USED to have problems with low readings. 3 things cured it: the new watchOS 6, a tighter fit ALL THE TIME in my wrist and ZERO LOTION or any other product around the wrist. I have not had a low reading since.

Heidi Montalvo

I know you’re saying you’re disappointed, but wasn’t it the watch that alerted you to seek assistance – isn’t that a good thing? I think we shouldn’t put too much reliance on these things, they are more than a watch but aren’t medical devises. I’m pleased you’re ok and getting treatment.

There is nothing with a low resting heart rate in the morning, in fact it means that it is efficient.

Best time to take it is in the morning when you first wake up so there aren’t any contributing factors such as caffeine.

To be honest it doesn’t look like there are any spikes or that it’s beating out of time.

If you feel dizzy then I’d ring the doctor though.

Katherine Lowe

Ok so I’m waiting to hear back from Apple but so far they seem stumped. I don’t get alerts on low heart rate. According to my data my heart dropped to 41-45 bmp for 30 mins and no alerts. I have my alerts set to tell me anything below 50 bmp but this says no apps allowed to read data. I have unpaired my watch twice. Turned it off and no more times I can count. Does anyone else have this?

Jennifer Friesen

Apple Watch Stops Tracking Heart Rate While Exercising

Frederik Bonnichsen asked a question

Heart rate issue – Series 5. Anyone else who tried that the watch suddenly stops tracking the heart rate while running? Have been searching all over the web, and tried to adjust the band to get the right fit.

That happens to me, I have series2, been happening for a long time now, watch band is on tight too… never figured out what causes it! Doesn’t really seem to matter.

Raquel Baranow

Yes, and I’ve tried everything and it’s happened on every Stainless Steel series from the original to the S5 (I upgrade each release). I’d love to find a second *wrist* device that I could use to show my pulse when running. It’s the worst thing about the Apple Watch, by far.

Oddly, there was a version of watchOS a couple of years ago that fixed this, but a later update reverted back to the inability to consistently read while running. My guess is that it wasn’t as accurate as they’d like, so they’d rather blank it out. Which is frustrating because it doesn’t have to be 100% accurate, just in the ballpark (which it was).

By trying everything, I mean: up and down my arm; loose, tight and in between; on in the inside of my wrist; on my other wrist; and even shaving the spot on my arm. Nothing made a difference. I know there are chest straps, but I really don’t want to use one of those.

Kevin Edwards

I had that happen only when wearing a sport or Nike sport band. I had read that wearing the watch higher up your arm would give a better reading. So, I have switched to sport loops and snug the band further up that I normally wear it and have not had the no readings. Just my experience.

Nonie Masterson

Does or has anyone else had issues with heart rate readings only when in workout?? My sensors are clean, my watch is snug, software is up dated and heart monitor works just fine throughout the day but for some reason will stop registering your heart rate during workouts… more so if my heart rate goes over 140bpm… first photo was when it was working pretty good and now it’s gotten worse it won’t even give me a heart rate graph on my activities anymore because it’s not reading enough.

Erica Fuller

My Apple Watch series 4 was working fine until I updated the software to OS 7.0, my iPhone 11 has also been updated to iOS 14.0

Now I find my exercise tracking is only showing a timer and no heart rate or calories. I have also tried the heart rate monitor and it does not work either.

I’ve checked and my Privacy settings show Heart Rate and Fitness Tracking enabled. Everything was working fine before the software updates.

Barry Tiptree

Activity App Not Recording Heart Rate Data

Adam Melton asked a question

The heart rate monitor only works when manually checking it, or when using the workout app (rendering sleep tracking, etc. useless). There is also no resting heartbeat displayed.

I’ve tried calibration twice, reset the watch, unpaired and paired the devices, restarted the phone, verified all activities, locations, motion, permissions, etc are allowed and on, no passcodes, no battery saver modes enabled, set the wheel chair to no, nothing has worked so far…

You can expect to have this problem where the Activity app will not record your heart rate AT ALL. Sure, the Apple Watch still measure your current heart rate, but when you tap “Done” the app doesn’t log it.

If the heart rate is not being recorded on your Apple Watch:

  1. On your iPhone, open the Watch app,
  2. Go to My Watch > Privacy,
  3. Enable Heart Rate and Fitness Tracking.

Also, turn off Power Saving Mode from the Workout setting page.

Apple Watch Heart Rate Sensor Not Working

If the Apple Watch does not measure your heart rate due to issues with the sensor, there are a few things you need to do.

  1. Check to see if the green LED light on the sensor is visible.
  2. Are you wearing your Apple Watch tight enough?
  3. Turn on Wrist Detection from the Settings page.
  4. Are there anything on your wrist that could affect the performance of your Apple Watch’s sensor?

The watch may display unreliable data, but then we have a severe problem if it shows nothing at all. Get in touch with Apple if you believe this is a hardware issue.

Leave a Comment

  1. I have a patent to prevent Sudden Cardiac Death [SCD]. I have avoided SCD 4 times with it. This is done with an algorithm, part of which uses the Kardia ECG in coordination with a simple real time pulse-to-pulse display of every pulse of arrhythmia having lightly connected lines for one minute. I contracted Lowell Prange for the Arrhythmia Monitor [AM], Android Devices, that I use for this even though it has poor ratings. Do you have an apple contractor or perhaps right now have such an app using the Apple 3 watch I have on my wrist? I intended to send a screen shot [SS], example, for this 90 year old, male. But I was not able to cut and paste the SS. I could send you a SS another way. Your Apple 3 watch would perform beautifully for SCD prevention using pulse-to-pulse real time arrhythmia.
    David W. Young

    Reply
  2. There is no such option on my iPhone My Watch app under General. My heartbeat monitor stopped working last week and I’m trying to discover why.

    Reply
    • Mine stopped as well. The green LED lights that typically would be on all the time when strapped to my wrist are no longer on. I’ll be making a Genius Bar appointment soon.

      Reply
  3. What good is this write up if it doesn’t help with any of the problems listed.
    I do not see green lights ……… so by this i what just sit here.
    Not much help if you don’t at least tell ppl what can or should be done.

    Reply
  4. I have an Apple Watch 5 running WatchOS 6.1.1 and my Cardiogram complication stopped
    updating the BPM when I enabled My Watch / Display & Brightness / Always On

    I disabled Always On, did a Power OFF, Power ON. Watch now updates BPM each time
    I turn my wrist to read the face of the watch like it used to.

    Reply

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