Garmin watch with pacemaker

My dad is a 75 year old with a St Jude pacemaker. He had his first pacemaker installed 18 years ago, and it was changed 5 years back. I'm thinking of getting him a Garmin Forerunner 245 or similar - something to monitor his heart rate and blood oxygen levels, specially when he's out and about. I'm seeing some concerns about smart watches and their interference with pacemakers, and also some issues with double counting. Can somebody with a similar watch and a pacemaker please confirm if these are indeed problems, or if we can expect the watch and pacemaker to work together nicely?


11 Comments

smart watch

by Persephone - 2022-09-03 15:01:02

Not sure why you're feeling the need to do this, but I was coincidentally thinking I should get an apple watch or similar in case I find myself in a precarious situation and don't have my cell phone strapped to my body (many women's clothes don't have adequate pockets to always carry a cell phone). I wouldn't hesitate to do that for myself as a PM recipient. I'm sure some others will pitch in their thoughts here, but I'm not seeing the garmin as super helpful with a PM.

Smart watch

by AgentX86 - 2022-09-03 16:21:52

The watch certainly isn't going to bother the pacemaker but it's unusual for a smartwatch's heart functions to work properly with a pacemaker.  They're very iffy anyway and a pacemaker doesn't help.  The EKG type aren't programmed to understand pacing spikes so do a poor job and are useless for automatically detecting arryhthmias. It's a matter of market, though I understand that Apple is working on it.

If it's a pulse-ox style sensor, it might or might not work.  It probably won't be reliable and any arrhythmias will drive it silly.

smart watch

by new to pace.... - 2022-09-03 18:04:01

I do not see the need to monitor levels.   Let the pacemaker do it thing with out being obsesssed  with the numbers.  Just let him enjoy himself without worrying.   

new to pace.

clock with a second hand

by dwelch - 2022-09-03 22:39:51

fingers on the wrist or neck and a clock with a second hand, and go for a full minute no cheating.  Not going to get much better than that unless you cant figure out how to feel your pulse.

Now the led thorugh the finger ones, the ones that clip on that you can get for $15 or maybe less now, those should/do work just fine. 

Ones that work on electrical signals.  Do not have any expectation for success.  Or if it works it might not work every day all the time.  Unless it is a full blown ekg machine with the patches and wires.

If you want pulseox, then get the clip on the finger one...stick it on the finger after getting back to the car.  I think this will cause more anxiety though, the pacer is doing its job, dont need to user lesser technology to try to keep track of it.  If you dont trust the device then push the button on the take home monitor more often or schedule more frequent interrogations.  

I Had a Garmin Watch

by Marybird - 2022-09-04 11:58:23

I basically used it to track my heart rate before I got my pacemaker. It didn't do a bad job, though as Agent mentioned it wasn't very useful when the arrhythmias got going, though it did show the higher heart rates. It wasn't bad at the accuracy of the heart rates, I frequently checked it against the other heart rate devices we had ( ie, pulse oximeter, blood pressure monitor, even the good old finger against the wrist or neck pulse and watch method) and they all pretty much agreed.

I took it off when I got my pacemaker in 2019. I found it showed lower heart rates when I had PVCs, and I just didn't think it worked as well. Besides that, I thought I'd gotten a bit obsessed with my heart rate with checking it so often pre-pacemaker when things were corrected so very well once I got the pacemaker, I figured I didn't need to know what my heart rate was, it was where it was supposed to be for any given activity I was doing. Other than checking my heart rate with a pulse oximeter once in a while, I still maintain that same perspective regarding my heart rate post pacemaker. The bottom line, I know my pacemaker is doing its job ( and a great job it's doing), and I don't need to worry about it, or even think much about it.

Garmin watch

by Julros - 2022-09-04 16:32:36

I have a Garmin Forerunner 45 that I use for training for running. I don't wear it as much as I used to since I got my iWatch. Thanks to my Garmin, I realized that my rate response wasn't optimized for my activity level, that is, it was only going from 60 to 80 with brisk walking, and hardly increasing at all with cycling. It seems to be pretty accurate when I'm active, because if I stop to manually count my pulse, the rate drops almost immediately. I have improved my 5K times, and completed two 10 K runs, and hope to resume training as soon as I heal from my latest pacer upgrade. 

I also enjoy the other features, such as the training programs offered through the Garmin app on my phone, and tracking the mileage for my sneakers. My Garmin doesn't do pulse ox readings. I would be more curious about CO2 levels, because sometimes my hands get tingly with a longer run and I wonder if I'm in respiratory alkalosis. 

hands get tingly with a longer run

by Persephone - 2022-09-04 17:44:48

Julros - I long experienced this with brisk walking before I got my pacer. I felt like it would be better if I carried light hand weights or similar so I could keep the blood pumping. I'm slightly ashamed to admit that I'm not sure if it's still going on since I've recently become a slug with regard to exercise (slug behavior not recommended). Thanks for sharing your story.

Garmin watch

by ourswimmer - 2022-09-05 19:51:13

Not sure what watch function might interfere with the pacemaker. I have a Garmin watch that I wear for open water swimming. It records my HR and seems reasonably accurate. The main reason I wear it for open water swimming is not to track my HR, though; it's for the GPS, to know how far I have gone and how long and to get the fun map at the end of my swim. Mine doesn't measure oxygen saturation.

I also have an Oura ring, which measures HR, heart-rate variability (not a very useful metric for people with pacemakers), body temperature, and oxygen saturation. Again, I don't know why any of its functions might interfere with a pacemaker and in my experience they do not. I got the Oura ring to replace the Garmin watch as a daily-wear item, in part because the wristband on the Garmin watch started to give me serious contact dermatitis. It works better for me except that it doesn't do the GPS tracking that I want for open water swimming.

I have these devices because I like collecting data and I like to think of myself as an athlete. I wouldn't recommend either of them to a 75-year-old non-athlete who doesn't have those goals, though.

heart rate monitors

by Tracey_E - 2022-09-06 18:03:45

I have an apple watch now but have had garmin in the past. Neither will affect the pacer. The pacer used to cause double counting or missed beats a few years back on a lot of heart rate monitors, but they seem to be fairly accurate on the newer ones. My apple watch is always spot on with heart rate, hit or miss with O2sat. If I really want to know O2sat, I use my oximeter. 

Unless he is having problems, there's no need for regular monitoring. 

garmin fenix

by stevebne - 2022-09-07 02:02:20

I still wear my Garmin Fenix round the clock, same as I did before diagnosis. In fact, it was the Garmin data that first alerted me to the problem as I had a very slow heart rate every night that i was unaware of.

There are no issues that i have found with Garmin from the pacemaker perspective. However, you need to decide what the purpose of recording data on the Garmin is for. On balance, over eager monitoring can make you needlessly stressed. But it may be helpful if you can record your heart rate with exercise to report back to the cardiologist, as that information may help with the settings/

Heart monitors and trainng

by Rocko - 2022-09-18 17:18:18

Have a medtronic device (3weeks post implant) Am resuming my training slowly. Anyone in this group usng a Polar H9 Heart rate senosr (worn around chest)? Anyone know of  issues with interference with this device?

Thank you

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