What Does High Heart Rate Mean on an Apple Watch ECG?

Apple Watch - high heart rate alert

Key Takeaways

  • There’s often a simple, logical explanation for your high heart rate.
  • On the other hand, a high heart rate result could mean you have an arrhythmia, atrial fibrillation, or another serious form of tachycardia.

If you're a television junkie who loves a good medical show like Grey's Anatomy or Chicago Med, you've probably heard the term "tachycardia" thrown around. Whether you know what tachycardia means or not, it's something that everyone has experienced at one time or another. If you have an Apple smartwatch with the ECG app, there's also a good chance you've had a tachycardia readout.

Tachycardia is a medical term that means you have a high heart rate. The human heart normally beats between 60 and 100 times per minute. For adults, anytime your heart beats more than 100 times per minute, it's tachycardia.

What Does High Heart Rate Mean on an Apple Watch ECG?

If you recently received a High Heart Rate (tachycardia) result on your smartwatch ECG, there are many possible reasons. Here are some possible explanations for a high heart rate result on the Apple watch ECG.

  • Going for a run or having a strenuous workout
  • Getting excited about something
  • You're dehydrated
  • You have an infection
  • You may have an arrhythmia or atrial fibrillation
  • You're stressed

As you can see, some of the reasons on this list are perfectly explainable, while others may carry a more serious risk. For example, you could risk a serious heart problem with heart arrhythmia or atrial fibrillation.

Should You be Worried If Your Apple Watch ECG Shows High Heart Rate?

If you already know that you have an irregular heartbeat or occasional atrial fibrillation, the high heart rate result shouldn't surprise you. However, if you were unaware that you have a heart problem, it's worth having the results of your ECG checked by a health professional. The tricky thing about the ECG feature on the Apple Watch is that it doesn't tell you why you have a high heart rate.

The only heart problem the watch can detect is atrial fibrillation. Unfortunately, if your heart rate is higher than 120, the watch won't be able to detect Afib. It will give you a high heart rate result, and that's its extent. Unless you know exactly how to read your ECG results, you'll be left wondering if there's anything wrong. Here are the different types of tachycardia that could explain your high heart rate result.

  • Sinus Tachycardia - high heart rate because of normal reasons like exercise or stress.
  • Atrial Fibrillation - chaotic electrical signals that can be temporary or permanent.
  • Atrial Flutter - less chaotic and irregular than A-fib.
  • Ventricular tachycardia - could be life-threatening if serious and untreated.
  • Supraventricular Tachycardia - abrupt and random episodes where your heart beats alarmingly fast.
  • Ventricular Fibrillation - episodes where the heart doesn't contract properly that will result in death if left untreated.

What Should You Do Next?

If you get a high heart rate result on your Apple Watch, you should first think back to how you felt when you took the ECG reading. Were you feeling stressed or afraid? Have you just returned from the gym or from going on a run? Is there a logical reason why your heart rate was high? If there is, then you likely have nothing to worry about but should perform a second ECG to see if your heart rate is back to normal.

However, if you have a high heart rate result while experiencing any of the following symptoms, you should contact a health professional:

  • Tightness or pain in your chest
  • Lightheaded or dizzy
  • Shortness of breath for no reason
  • Overly tired even though you haven't done anything to cause it
  • Fluttering in your chest or like your heart is skipping beats

A high heart rate ECG result with these symptoms could mean you have a heart condition or some form of serious tachycardia. Leaving any type of unexplainable tachycardia untreated and unchecked could result in death or heart problems.

How Can QALY Help With a High Heart Rate Reading?

If you've received a high heart result on your Apple watch ECG reading and need a more detailed explanation, QALY is here to help. Simply send us a copy of the ECG results, and one of our health professionals will review it and get back to you within minutes. We'll look at your heart rhythm to see if the tachycardia is normal, Afib, or some other arrhythmia.


Tachycardia - Symptoms and causes - Mayo Clinic

Apple Watch ECG app: What cardiologists want you to know - CNET

Take an ECG with the ECG app on Apple Watch - Apple Support

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