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  1. #1
    Yen
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    Heart rate spikes showing on Garmin Edge

    For the past few weeks I've seen sudden and high spikes in my HR of 200+ while riding, even on the flats. (I ride with the Garmin Edge 800 which includes a HR monitor and chest strap.) I have a slow resting HR (typically mid-40s immediately after waking up in the morning). Several years ago I had a treadmill stress test which showed no problems but the doctor reported "benign PACs" but was otherwise VERY impressed with my fitness.

    I have been under stress for several months. I drink 1 large mug of coffee early in the morning but I am slowly weaning off to see if it helps. I am prone to anxiety (just free-floating, no attacks). Sometimes when I see these spikes I also feel a surge of excitement or an adrenaline rush; other times I feel nothing at all, or I feel that surge/rush but no spike in the HR. I've also seen higher-than-normal numbers in the lower ranges (150 when I usually see 130, 130 when I usually see 100-teens, etc.). We already replaced the battery in the chest strap but it hasn't improved.

    I have not uploaded the data to my computer to view it there but I am assuming I'll see whatever my Garmin displays.

    Has anyone seen such high spikes with no symptoms? Could this be due to interference?
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    Banned. DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Hi Yen. Nice to see your post. I have no advice except to see a doc, preferably an electrophysiologist.

    Denver

    "Still alive at 75"

  3. #3
    Yen
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    Hi Denver, nice to see you too.

    After I wrote my post I Googled about this (why didn't I think of that before?) and found quite a few posts in the Garmin forums and elsewhere from people reporting sudden high spikes in HR and a faulty chest strap.

    I meant to add that several times when I see this I've immediately check my carotid pulse which doesn't feel anywhere close to a 200+ reading. That gives me some consolation, but then I wonder if the monitor picked up a fibrillation that has stopped by the time I check my pulse.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yen View Post
    For the past few weeks I've seen sudden and high spikes in my HR of 200+ while riding, even on the flats. (I ride with the Garmin Edge 800 which includes a HR monitor and chest strap.) I have a slow resting HR (typically mid-40s immediately after waking up in the morning). Several years ago I had a treadmill stress test which showed no problems but the doctor reported "benign PACs" but was otherwise VERY impressed with my fitness.

    I have been under stress for several months. I drink 1 large mug of coffee early in the morning but I am slowly weaning off to see if it helps. I am prone to anxiety (just free-floating, no attacks). Sometimes when I see these spikes I also feel a surge of excitement or an adrenaline rush; other times I feel nothing at all, or I feel that surge/rush but no spike in the HR. I've also seen higher-than-normal numbers in the lower ranges (150 when I usually see 130, 130 when I usually see 100-teens, etc.). We already replaced the battery in the chest strap but it hasn't improved.

    I have not uploaded the data to my computer to view it there but I am assuming I'll see whatever my Garmin displays.

    Has anyone seen such high spikes with no symptoms? Could this be due to interference?
    Garmin HRM straps are prone to erratic high spikes. Normally what you will see in the data is a spike of one or two seconds. It can be disturbing when you see such a high reading. I've found this to happen more with the older, hard case Garmin straps. I've not had this problem with their newer straps but they are prone to dropouts. Things that can cause spikes is static electricity, sometimes caused by dry weather and wind. This normally happens in the Summer. I'm not saying you don't have a medical problem, but don't rule out bad readings, even if it means replacing the HRM strap. When you see an abnormal reading, stop and actually check your heart rate. This is a quick way to tell if the HRM readings are bogus.

    On the other hand, getting a stress test every few years is always a good idea. I get a stress echocardiogram (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/e...cle/003869.htm) every other year. Of course I had a bypass in 2008.
    Last edited by bikepro; 12-01-14 at 06:02 PM.

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    I've never had it happen with the heart rate but my Garmin Edge 305 showed a couple MPH spikes from 15 mph to 32 mph while riding on the flats in Florida. I doubt I could ride 32 mph going down Pike's Peak. I download my date into Garmin Connect and the old Training Center. The spikes show up in Connect but not in Training Center. I realize that makes no sense but that's the way it is.

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    www.ocrebels.com Rick@OCRR's Avatar
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    I had the same problem and Garmin Customer Service rep told me it was because I was washing my strap in the washing machine (which I was!). He said not to do that anymore.

    If you have done that, it's very likely the cause since (he told me) that can cause wires (inside the strap) to touch momentarily thus causing
    the high heart rate reading. I was having that problem a lot but a new heart rate strap fixed it for me.

    Rick / OCRR

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    Let's do a Century jppe's Avatar
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    I have Afib and it shows up every now and then like what you've described. But, yours could also be a faulty strap. Does Jim have a Garmin that you could also wear at the same time with his Computer just to see if it shows up on both.....assuming you can eliminate any cross talking between the two.

    Good to hear you're still riding. Would love to get back to The Springs again!!
    Ride your Ride!!

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    Methinks we spend too much effort and attention on heart rate. Especially heart rate provided by, from a medical perspective, grossly inaccurate machines.

    Much better for almost all of us to use the Ease of Breathing test.

    Add: If anyone thinks they truly have a cardiac issue their first stop should be a competent medical provider. Coming to this place might be a form of hopeful denial that just delays proper treatment.
    Last edited by HawkOwl; 12-01-14 at 10:09 PM.
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    Most HR straps are subject to reading high due to static interference, particularly in dry conditions with a loose jersey. I often get high HR showing up near the beginning of a ride. If I hold my hand over the strap to prevent the jersey from flapping it goes down. Once I start sweating the HR settles down.

  10. #10
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    There are three causes for this phenomenon. The most common is flapping jersey, vest, or jacket. Some materials make static when they flap and this is read as HR by the receiver. It's fairly easy to diagnose this, because it stops when you stop or slow down.

    The second most common is a faulty strap. I use the type of straps where the transmitter snaps onto the strap. Thus it's easy to diagnose simply by snapping the transmitter to a different strap. I always have a spare strap because they do always go wrong eventually. Both Polar and Garmin straps of this type have the snaps on the same centers, so you can use a Polar strap with a Garmin transmitter and vice versa. I suggest swapping to this sort of a system if the first suggestion doesn't work.

    The third most common is the dreaded A-fib. My experiences of riding with friends with A-fib is that their HR goes up like you say, but it stays up for quite some time. Any slight exertion pops it right up, and it's uneven when up, jumping around a bit. Stopping doesn't put it right back down. That doesn't sound quite like your description, so I'm guessing it's one of the first two possibilities.

    Sorry if I sound like a bit of a prig, but I've just been watching Downton Abbey. Carry on, please.

    Edit: The previous poster reminded me of a fourth possibility, which is about even with number two for probability. Sometimes faulty contact is made with the chest, especially a dry chest, and this gives either high or low readings. However, it will also give low readings, not just high. The cure for this problem is using a conductive gel designed for HRMs or electrocardiograms. Spectra Gel is one, and Buh Bump cream is another. The Spectra is cheap and available on Amazon. I always use it if I'm doing a ride or workout that I care about recording.
    Last edited by Carbonfiberboy; 12-01-14 at 10:44 PM.

  11. #11
    Senior Member kingfishr's Avatar
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    if your heart rate jumps to 200 you will feel it and will not need to look at your Garmin. It is either static or poor contact/conductivity. Can be caused by dry skin under the contacts, or too much hair under the contacts. Wet your skin under the contacts, but if you're not sweating enough with low humidity in the air, it's going to happen. The problem is almost always related to the hr strap itself. I have about 5 different models and with some it never happens and with others it always happens...

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    Old fart JohnDThompson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HawkOwl View Post
    Methinks we spend too much effort and attention on heart rate. Especially heart rate provided by, from a medical perspective, grossly inaccurate machines.
    +1 this. Unless you're getting the pulse directly from an artery you should look at those anomalously high rates as inaccurate. If you see a reading that's out of range, try to palpate a radial or carotid pulse to verify the rate. "Treat the patient, not the monitor" is what we say in the business...

  13. #13
    Senior Member JerrySTL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gregf83 View Post
    Most HR straps are subject to reading high due to static interference, particularly in dry conditions with a loose jersey. I often get high HR showing up near the beginning of a ride. If I hold my hand over the strap to prevent the jersey from flapping it goes down. Once I start sweating the HR settles down.
    I've heard it called "flappy jersey syndrome". I also have trouble with a nylon jacket flapping around even after I've worked up a good sweat.

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    Senior Member nkfrench's Avatar
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    I used to get big spikes at the beginning of rides before I started sweating when I was using an old Polar cheststrap that had a soft fabric covering to the contact patch.
    It happened when I was not exerting much at all, and my heartrate never actually spiked.
    I always dampened the cheststrap contact path before riding.
    A friend suggested moistening the contact patch with a personal lube such as KY Jelly (aka "Kentucky" Jelly ). It is cheaper than special-purpose lube. That helped somewhat but I still had spikes.
    The problems went away with a newer-style cheststraps that had a thin rubbery contact patch that made better contact to the skin. The strap is a snug fit.

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    First poster said it all get checked out I have had the same issues with two different HRMs and straps used the gel etc, I have afib and according to my doc you can get all kinds of goofy readings from the non-medical grade devices. I will spike to over 200 the look a little later and it is 120 I have the kind of afib where I take medication but have no restrictions or other problems other than the hills seem steeper each year

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    USMC Veteran qcpmsame's Avatar
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    Yen,
    Great to see you posting here, we recently had a thread about HR spikes and Garmin staps, here is the link for your use:How Unusual for 196 HR? hope this helps out some.

    Bill
    "I Can Do All Things Through Christ Who Strengthens Me" Philippians 4:13

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    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nkfrench View Post
    I used to get big spikes at the beginning of rides before I started sweating when I was using an old Polar cheststrap that had a soft fabric covering to the contact patch.
    It happened when I was not exerting much at all, and my heartrate never actually spiked.
    I always dampened the cheststrap contact path before riding.
    A friend suggested moistening the contact patch with a personal lube such as KY Jelly (aka "Kentucky" Jelly ). It is cheaper than special-purpose lube. That helped somewhat but I still had spikes.
    The problems went away with a newer-style cheststraps that had a thin rubbery contact patch that made better contact to the skin. The strap is a snug fit.
    Right. This is what you do. That type of strap and the snap-on transmitter. The little wires in the older straps got bad connections, broke, whatever.

  18. #18
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    Just lick the contact points before putting on the strap. The saliva gets you along to the point where your sweat takes over the conductive process. There is no need for gels and other commercial products.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

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    Also try hand washing the strap. Don't forget to take the transmitter off. Usually not washing the strap results in drop outs but I have had spikes that went away when I rinsed the strap. 99% it is the strap.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by gregf83 View Post
    Most HR straps are subject to reading high due to static interference, particularly in dry conditions with a loose jersey. I often get high HR showing up near the beginning of a ride. If I hold my hand over the strap to prevent the jersey from flapping it goes down. Once I start sweating the HR settles down.
    Yep! My last HRM was probably fried from static buildup on a really dry Santa Ana day. Read erratic 200+bpm spikes and then refused to indicate anything other than around 135 bpm.

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