Advice Needed for Heart Rate Monitoring Dur... - AF Association

AF Association

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Advice Needed for Heart Rate Monitoring During Exercise


I have had a pacemaker for about 9 years due to sick sinus syndrome caused by radiation treatments for Hodgkins Disease in 1976. It is set to kick in when my heart rate drops below 60 since the sick sinus syndrome was causing critically low heart rate. Over the past few years, also developed AF and atrial flutter. Had serious health problems about 15 months ago that resulted in 4 hospital stays in a 5 month period totaling 23 days for pleural and pericardial effusions. Had a pericardial window done, 3 tubes in chest and heart cavity to drain fluid and an additional procedure done (can’t remember the name of it!) to drain more fluid from my left lung because the tube got clogged or twisted. Have had a cardioversion done, followed by 2 ablation, the most recent about a month ago. So far, so good. Am on Xarelto as a blood thinner, but no other heart rhythm meds. (Was on Amiodarone about a year ago for about 5 months but am doing everything I can now to avoid it.)

Also have totally screwed up thyroid (thanks, Amiodarone!) that the endocrinologist is working to get resolved.

Have retired from my job as principal at an elementary school to reduce my stress as much as possible. Am now trying to work out at a gym about 5 days a week/an hour each day to strengthen my heart and lungs - 3 days cardio and 2 days strength/conditioning.

The problem I’m having is getting an accurate heart rate measurement to insure I’m getting into the appropriate heart rate zones. (I did an Active Metabolic Assessment to “customize” those zones.). As others have said, my FitBit doesn’t really accurately measure my heart rate. I’ve worn a chest strap monitor but that doesn’t seem to be accurate either - no matter how hard I feel like I’m working, it’s measurements never indicate the higher heart rates that I would expect in Zone 4, which is where I’m supposed to be about 20% of the time. Right now, I’ve given up on looking at the numbers and am going with “perceived exertion”. Also don’t know if my pacemaker interferes with accurate measurements or not. My cardiologist and EP don’t think so, but I wonder.

Does anyone have advice on a monitor that would accurately measure my heart rate? Any ideas would me most appreciated as I continue my quest to avoid AF and another ablation in the future!

Sorry for the long post - and thanks to all for everything I’ve learned through your sharing!

6 Replies


When training I use a Polar H10 chest strap monitor coupled to a Polar M430 watch, which in my opinion works very well. That being said I am in NSR following a CV in July and as such cannot vouch for its accuracy with irregular heart rates.

The H10 can be linked to various models of Polar watch. Should you not wish to buy a Polar watch and if you don't mind carrying your smart phone into the gym you can link the H10 to your phone using the Polar Beat app.

Good Luck.


I am wondering if you have read the factsheet 'Recovering from an ablation' on the AFA site? Considering the problems you have had I think it might be a good idea!

Hi there, been there had that problem. I also had a Polar watch and it was all over the place varying wildly from 70bpm (clearly wrong as I was working fairly hard) to 190 (also wrong, as I could still hold a conversation while running). Very frustrating when trying to gauge effort and stay within planned training zones. Then I lost my Polar (a long and irrelevant story) and couldn't afford a replacement, so I bought a much cheaper - also with chest strap, the wrist type are an exercise in futility for us imo - version off Amazon (a Beurer, around £30) and to my surprise it was much more consistent and I use it all the time. I'm not sure whether it's a case of a simpler mechanism not trying to be too clever and not picking up the weird stuff that goes on with my heart rhythm, or whether the technology has improved (my Polar was around 4-5 years old).

Having said all that, your best gauge is still your body, so please listen to it and don't override your senses because your HRM says you're still ok.

Good luck


FitBit and Polar are the obvious options (I used Polar in the 90's when I cycled).

I now have an Apple Watch 4, which seems OK... and I believe the heart rate readings, but have not checked them.

If there is a cardio site or magazine that has done a review, it might be useful info... but most of the reviews I have read are all about the "Gee Whiz" features!

Hi Dondo,

I understand your request. My own situation is similar in that I have permanent AF and like to go to the gym. Whenever I have asked a health care professional to advise they say that there currently is no device that accurately measure HR for those with AF. The AF association advise the same. I do use a Mio Alpha 2 wrist worn device which seems fine for general use but in the gym it sometimes varies wildly, low when working hard and visa versa. It also records highs of 180 plus on occasion which I can't believe. It was the de ice with the best reviews when I bought it 2 years ago.

Sorry i can't help you but I too would like to find a reliable device to follow a more structured exercise routine and so please let me know if you have any success in your search.

Alivecore absolutely spot on. works with computer and phone on Wi-Fi you can get an accurate reading and printout from computer and/or a visual on your phone to show your specialist or emergency doc. Was on Amiodarone 8 months, refused to take it anymore. Luckely thyroid went back to normal. You could try to meditate along with excercising you might need it with all if the stress. Good luck

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