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Wacky HR monitor readings - help!

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Wacky HR monitor readings - help!

Old 05-16-19, 06:44 AM
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Wacky HR monitor readings - help!

Hi all. I know this is a fairly common problem: My Garmin HR monitor was reliable for about 1.5 years, but recently started giving highly erratic readings. Always about 7-12 minutes into the ride, always astronomically high readings (250+, which is a little above my max HR), and then it goes gradually down to normal. This is slightly annoying, as I like to track my max HR on each ride.

My question: should I guy a new HR monitor, or will that just be a waste of money? Interested to learn of other people's experiences in this regard. Thanks!
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Old 05-16-19, 08:23 AM
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I can not speak for you specific needs on the bike but when I my current chest strap setup does fail I will not be replacing. I am on my second garmin unit in about 6 years. I find the info helpful but not really necessary. I found it more necessary before I got a power meter but now I use that data for training and such so I will probably ditch the HR.
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Old 05-16-19, 09:43 AM
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Three guesses:

1. You need to replace the HR battery. If it's a Garmin strap, good luck!

2. The strap isn't getting a clear signal. Wash the strap, and try a HRM gel (or spit) under the pads if washing doesn't work.

3. The readings are right, and you may have atrial fibrillation. Go see a cardiologist.

Or maybe 4, the strap needs to be replaced. (Try a Wahoo for easier battery changes!)
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Old 05-16-19, 10:09 AM
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When my battery is low, I get low readings, not high. But that is a cheap thing to change so I would try that first even though I think that unlikely.

As Pdlamb suggested, clean it, perhaps there are salts that are conductive that are allowing some form of short circuit.

If it is a ANT+ type of strap, you might be able to buy a non-Garmin strap if you see something else you like. I bought a Addidas ANT+ strap that works with my Garmin 62S.
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Old 05-16-19, 10:52 AM
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Thanks for the advice, so far. Happy to get more advice, if it's forthcoming.

I'll try a new battery first. If that doesn't work, I'll get a new HR monitor.

It's a Garmin, but the battery is very easy to replace - I have done it once before when it quit working.

I think it's not atrial fibrillation -- if my HR actually did hit 250+, I think I'd know it!
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Old 05-16-19, 11:13 AM
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Really sounds like the battery to me, washing wouldn't hurt either.

Which strap do you have? Garmin has made so many. I probably got 5 years out of the old plastic uncomfortable one, I've never got more than a year out of their running one.

Last edited by Seattle Forrest; 05-16-19 at 11:19 AM.
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Old 05-16-19, 11:15 AM
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Originally Posted by sdmc530 View Post
I can not speak for you specific needs on the bike but when I my current chest strap setup does fail I will not be replacing. I am on my second garmin unit in about 6 years. I find the info helpful but not really necessary. I found it more necessary before I got a power meter but now I use that data for training and such so I will probably ditch the HR.
Ideal to have both. Especially since the chest strap costs so little. You can work out your current VO2max from your HRWR ratio, and get some insight into how well you're recovering.
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Old 05-16-19, 11:19 AM
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Here's the old uncomfortable one for $21 new.

Garmin Heart Rate Monitor https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000UOD5QM..._sRz3CbHMK136P

Soft strap for $49.

Garmin Premium Heart Rate Monitor (Soft Strap) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BI9X1QM..._8Rz3Cb4QNP2SC

And a no name ANT+ one for $30.

CooSpo Fitness Tracker Ant+ Heart Rate Monitor Chest Strap IP67 Waterproof with Bluetooth for Wahoo Strava Zwift Ö https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07BS6B4PD..._uTz3Cb9VHPA76
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Old 05-16-19, 12:01 PM
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I will say that of the straps I have used in the past I think the soft strap by Garmin is really comfy....
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Old 05-16-19, 12:59 PM
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I've had two of the Garmin Premium Soft Straps in the last nine years. They've worked great for me. I just rinse it off under running water immediately after a ride. Just got my second strap maybe two years or less ago. I seem to remember my first was starting to act like you described and even with battery change it didn't help.

You can find the Garmin Premium Soft Straps online for less than fifty bucks. Though some people have issues with them, I think mine have been solid. I wonder if it's those that sweat so much salt that they crust up their clothes, strap and anything else that have the real crazy issues and low success with the Garmin strap. I'm fairly low salt on my diet compared to others.
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Old 05-16-19, 01:54 PM
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After a battery change you might have to re-pair the strap with the Garmin so they can communicate.
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Old 05-16-19, 02:34 PM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
Three guesses:

1. You need to replace the HR battery. If it's a Garmin strap, good luck!

2. The strap isn't getting a clear signal. Wash the strap, and try a HRM gel (or spit) under the pads if washing doesn't work.

3. The readings are right, and you may have atrial fibrillation. Go see a cardiologist.

Or maybe 4, the strap needs to be replaced. (Try a Wahoo for easier battery changes!)

Reverse steps 3 and 4. Replace the strap before seeing a specialist.

But yes, always do the easy and cheap thing first.


-Tim-
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Old 05-16-19, 07:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
I've had two of the Garmin Premium Soft Straps in the last nine years. They've worked great for me. I just rinse it off under running water immediately after a ride. Just got my second strap maybe two years or less ago. I seem to remember my first was starting to act like you described and even with battery change it didn't help.

You can find the Garmin Premium Soft Straps online for less than fifty bucks. Though some people have issues with them, I think mine have been solid. I wonder if it's those that sweat so much salt that they crust up their clothes, strap and anything else that have the real crazy issues and low success with the Garmin strap. I'm fairly low salt on my diet compared to others.
I've had my Soft Strap for 4 years now and it has worked great for me too. Usually rinse it off in the utility sink in the garage after use and just hang it over the side to to dry. I did replace the battery last year just because it was 3 years old and figured it was due. You do need a jewelers screwdriver to open the case but I didn't find anything difficult about it. Plus, up until a few months ago I was kind of a salt fiend so it saw plenty of NaCl over the years but maybe rinsing it off helped. I find it comfortable too.
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Old 05-16-19, 10:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
Thanks for the advice, so far. Happy to get more advice, if it's forthcoming.

I'll try a new battery first. If that doesn't work, I'll get a new HR monitor.

It's a Garmin, but the battery is very easy to replace - I have done it once before when it quit working.

I think it's not atrial fibrillation -- if my HR actually did hit 250+, I think I'd know it!
Not always true about feeling it. If not for the hr monitor I never would had known I was in afib. HR for me was between 70 and 180s never felt it at all. Some people never feel it others canít walk across a room without losing their breath.
Odds are it is not afib but donít discount it just because you canít feel it.

I would give the strap a good soaking
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Old 05-17-19, 07:33 AM
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Originally Posted by TimothyH View Post
Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
Three guesses:

1. You need to replace the HR battery. If it's a Garmin strap, good luck!

2. The strap isn't getting a clear signal. Wash the strap, and try a HRM gel (or spit) under the pads if washing doesn't work.

3. The readings are right, and you may have atrial fibrillation. Go see a cardiologist.

Or maybe 4, the strap needs to be replaced. (Try a Wahoo for easier battery changes!)

Reverse steps 3 and 4. Replace the strap before seeing a specialist.

But yes, always do the easy and cheap thing first.
To extend that good point, swap steps 1 and 2 and try spit on the electrodes first -- it's even cheaper than a $5 battery!
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Old 05-17-19, 07:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
Hi all. I know this is a fairly common problem: My Garmin HR monitor was reliable for about 1.5 years, but recently started giving highly erratic readings. Always about 7-12 minutes into the ride, always astronomically high readings (250+, which is a little above my max HR), and then it goes gradually down to normal. This is slightly annoying, as I like to track my max HR on each ride.

My question: should I guy a new HR monitor, or will that just be a waste of money? Interested to learn of other people's experiences in this regard. Thanks!
It's a fairly common characteristic when the contacts are dry and you have a jersey that moves around. Options are to ignore the first 15 min of HR recordings, try some gel on the contacts, wear tighter jerseys. This problem is typically worse with low humidity.
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Old 05-18-19, 06:37 AM
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Another thing to try is to tighten up the strap a bit. The elastic in mine started to go this helped.
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Old 05-23-19, 11:08 PM
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I have been getting erratic readings from my Garmin HRM, too.

I've tried everything, replacing the battery, being super conscientious with washing after each ride and even scrubbing the metal contacts with toothpaste (to make sure no corrosion or salt buildup interfered with the signals).

Tonight, I discovered that there was a slash in one of the plastic contact patches. It was very hard to see. I'm pretty sure that sweat was getting into the center of the strap and interfering.

New strap is now on order.

I'll let you all know if it cures the problem.
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Old 06-01-19, 06:01 PM
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The new strap arrived and I've used it for a couple of rides. It works great! No more erratic readings.

The slit in the electrode area of the old strap was causing the problem.
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Old 08-18-19, 03:55 PM
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Afib here!

Thought my Garmin HRM Dual was defective because of high readings, sometimes as high as 200 bpm. At age 64 this would not be possible. Then I noticed shortness of breath, dizziness and other symptoms. Went to the doctor and ekg showed atrial fibrillation. If you have other symptoms donít rule this out.
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Old 08-18-19, 10:57 PM
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I used to see very high heart rate from my GARMIN chest strap. Turned out it was caused by a jersey fluttering in the wind.

I now use a GARMIN wrist strap. It rarely reports crazy high numbers.
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Old 09-14-19, 06:13 AM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
Three guesses:

1. You need to replace the HR battery. If it's a Garmin strap, good luck!

2. The strap isn't getting a clear signal. Wash the strap, and try a HRM gel (or spit) under the pads if washing doesn't work.

3. The readings are right, and you may have atrial fibrillation. Go see a cardiologist.

Or maybe 4, the strap needs to be replaced. (Try a Wahoo for easier battery changes!)
False positives on this kind of cheap unregulated monitoring devices are a horrendous problem
Cost of a false positive:
Day off from work ($?), Cardiologist appointment ($350), electrocardiogram ($50), echocardiogram ($350) , holter monitor ($450), lab tests ($50-350), follow-up visit ($75)
All of this for a device that is cheaply made, with the uncertain quality control used for amusement.
Seeing this all of the time.

Monitoring is being aggressively promoted by the companies who sell extremely expensive medications for the treatment of atrial fibrillation and trying to extend its screening and treatment into areas where there is uncertain benefit. A true understanding of cost has to take into account the damage that is done chasing false positives in people who were not at substantial risk for the condition being pursued.

It's not like it's only mechanics who break things they are attempting to repair.
People are frightened into inappropriate workups on a regular basis because of these devices.

It is however amusing to watch people struggle trying to explain their concepts of risk.
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Old 09-15-19, 05:38 AM
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Originally Posted by bikebikebike View Post
False positives on this kind of cheap unregulated monitoring devices are a horrendous problem
Cost of a false positive:
Day off from work ($?), Cardiologist appointment ($350), electrocardiogram ($50), echocardiogram ($350) , holter monitor ($450), lab tests ($50-350), follow-up visit ($75)
All of this for a device that is cheaply made, with the uncertain quality control used for amusement.
Seeing this all of the time.

Monitoring is being aggressively promoted by the companies who sell extremely expensive medications for the treatment of atrial fibrillation and trying to extend its screening and treatment into areas where there is uncertain benefit. A true understanding of cost has to take into account the damage that is done chasing false positives in people who were not at substantial risk for the condition being pursued.

It's not like it's only mechanics who break things they are attempting to repair.
People are frightened into inappropriate workups on a regular basis because of these devices.

It is however amusing to watch people struggle trying to explain their concepts of risk.
Thanks for the on-topic and helpful info.
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Old 09-17-19, 06:47 PM
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I don't mean to trash HRM's but they are problematic and a proxy useful in training, but overlapping with medical risk assessment and diagnostics in a way that can create big problems.
Tell your doc about your readings and you can end up in a real Donnybrook.
We have made strides in catching congenital heart disease and reducing stroke risk, but screening and responding to odd symptoms has a certain risk that has to be factored in when assessing the good they can do.
We are going to see a lot of problems from the HRM's as they become more prevalent. There are what I call techno-eutopians ( eg. Eric Topol) who overlook the unintended consequences of unrestrained monitoring.
There is low accuracy and lots of inborn errors in the inexpensive HRM's we use to identify target training zones.
There is a rule in medicine, that , in an emergency, the first pulse you should take is your own.
That goes up there with first make sure it's plugged in and the battery is good.
Salt solution in a dropper bottle or even ECG paste for non photic ones, may improve their performance.
After that list of the stuff that can throw these things off gets encyclopedic, but they are either trustworthy or they are not. Kinda binary , if you are lucky.
As my mechanic used to tell me, "They all do that."

As an example , my Wahoo TICKR reads an alarming 150 at times when I am sitting on the couch , with regular apical and radial pulses of 60.
Not worthy of a $1500 + work up
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Old 09-17-19, 08:10 PM
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Originally Posted by bikebikebike View Post
I don't mean to trash HRM's but they are problematic and a proxy useful in training, but overlapping with medical risk assessment and diagnostics in a way that can create big problems.
Tell your doc about your readings and you can end up in a real Donnybrook.
We have made strides in catching congenital heart disease and reducing stroke risk, but screening and responding to odd symptoms has a certain risk that has to be factored in when assessing the good they can do.
We are going to see a lot of problems from the HRM's as they become more prevalent. There are what I call techno-eutopians ( eg. Eric Topol) who overlook the unintended consequences of unrestrained monitoring.
There is low accuracy and lots of inborn errors in the inexpensive HRM's we use to identify target training zones.
There is a rule in medicine, that , in an emergency, the first pulse you should take is your own.
That goes up there with first make sure it's plugged in and the battery is good.
Salt solution in a dropper bottle or even ECG paste for non photic ones, may improve their performance.
After that list of the stuff that can throw these things off gets encyclopedic, but they are either trustworthy or they are not. Kinda binary , if you are lucky.
As my mechanic used to tell me, "They all do that."

As an example , my Wahoo TICKR reads an alarming 150 at times when I am sitting on the couch , with regular apical and radial pulses of 60.
Not worthy of a $1500 + work up
So, do you reckon I should replace the battery, or just try re-pairing it with my cycle computer?
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