Really beginning to get cycling again.

I am 78 and a lifetime cyclist. I am 4 months post op when I recieve a replacement Aortic Valve (Via TAVI) and a single line Boston Scientific pacemaker. I am in permanent Afib according to the ECG and the PM is doing its job.

After 6 weeks I was exercising whithin reason. Over the next few weeks with the support of my Cardiologst the PM Tech and the Cardio Rehab, I am getting out and really enjoying an active cycling/sports life again.

The PM has been set 50 low and 140 high, I am fine with that for the timebeing.In the last 4 days I have ridden 24k twice in about an hour and 64 k in just over 3 hours. 

Frankly, now I feel that I need to build up my strengh and stamina. I have done my best to maintain a degree of fitness during the past 12 years of waiting for the stenosis to get bad enough for surgery. I continued to compete and enjoy social cycling. However, I am now amazed at how well I am doing.

The only problem I have at the moment is that My Garmin 530 Heart Rate Monitor will not register my HR. I do have a Garmin watch that seems to work up to 140 then it goes crazy telling me my HR is176. Its not, I stop and take my puse and it is never above 140. 

My Rehab tells me to forget the Heart Rate just go by how you feel. Tough to do that after so many years.

Have any of you had a similar problem? Any ideas?


I share your concerns

by crustyg - 2020-08-05 04:28:02

I cycle with a Garmin ANT+ chest strap, paired to my Edge 520.  On the odd occasion when I ride without one or the other I find I miss being able to see my HR, and it's unpleasant to push hard before my PM has got my HR up to something sensible - I have SSS+CI.  It can be very useful to see my HR being driven upwards as I pedal downhill, knowing that there's a short but steep climb ahead that I want to hit somewhere near maxHR - and not 69BPM!

In general, the chest strap monitors work better during physical exercise than wrist monitors, many of which are pulseox-based, but a few actually detect an ECG of some sort.  Most pulseox devices actually say that they aren't for use during vigorous exercise.

A chest strap *should* be able to detect the main QRS-part of your ECG from ventricular activation - this is what it detects and uses to calculate HR.  I'd be tempted to try another chest strap (borrow from a friend for the weekend?), as I can't see an obvious reason why it wouldn't work.

Thanks for your comments.

by Baldpaddy - 2020-08-05 17:49:48

Hi crustyg,

Thanks for your response and suggestions.

Having checked I am using exactly the same Garmin set up as you and it is a 520 not a 530 as I stated. I purchased it in 2016.

Ok, this morning I changed the bateries in both my chest strap and that of my wife, I charged both hers and my HR monitor. So with a bit of luck we should have no power issues.

These are the symptoms 

My HRM, as soon as i installed it it read 72 for 3 to 4 seconds then nothing, clear screen.

Wifes HRM, as soon as I installed it, it read 74 for 3 to 4 seconds then same as before, nothing clear screen.

She tried both of the HRMs and they worked perfectly well.

This all started with a heart murmer 12 years ago. I have had annual check ups including ECG, Echo, and stress tests. I continued to be active, competitive cycling and triathlon hiking and camping.

If I turn the clock back 6 months, before the op, I had an angiograme, when the decision was made for me to have a new Aortic Valve (TAVI) ASAP. There was no mention of a PM at that stage. This was in the early days of Covid. At the end of March I had several issues whilst I was sleeping when my heart dropped to low 30s and missed beats, including two occasions when I had been taken into Cardiac Emerg. As a result I ended up with the new Valve (TAVI) and PM. Everything went well and I feel like a different person.

As I understand it, the electrical nodes in the top half of my heart are in permanent Afib and I now rely on an electrical pulse from the single wire PM. Perhaps that is what I feel at my wrist and the HRM is still picking up the AFIB from my heart. 

Forgive me if I have oversimplified this however, I would rather spend time riding my bike etc.

I understand the desire to keep your HR up to start a hill but at the moment I find that belly breathing and twiddling a low gear for a bit has the desired effect.

I would welcome any opinions, particularly if I have got the wrong end of the stick.

Happy active life all and thanks crustyg.






by crustyg - 2020-08-06 15:29:39

You've done the sensible tests (there's a section in the Garmin Edge manual 'Tips for Erratic Heart') and you say that both chest straps work correctly on your wife.

So it's you. Seems unlikely that you have such dry or oily skin that both straps fail to detect a good enough skin for reliable operation, and in any case I suspect that your description of it working for a few seconds is telling us something important.

My HRM1G monitor seems to have the pickup electrodes quite widely spaced: looking at the pictures of some other Garmin HRMs it's not obvious that the electrodes are so far apart: I wonder if this is significant.

Which HRM model do you have?

I would be tempted to raise a support call with Garmin.


by Baldpaddy - 2020-08-06 22:15:22

I have one more test that I will make tomorrow. It just occured to me that I can also run my HR and activities through Strava on my phone. I will let you know how I get on. 

Thanks for the suggestion re the Garmin support call.

All the best.


HRM will not work with Boston PM

by Baldpaddy - 2020-08-11 16:28:55

Over the weekend I tried using my phone, wont work.

Also tried using my sons HRM wont work.

by Baldpaddy - 2020-08-11 16:35:32

Read above info I have just found.

Mine works 100% of the time

by crustyg - 2020-08-29 07:56:38

Interesting post from the past, but my own experience flatly contradicts this.  I have Accolade and my Garmin ANT+ chest strap works correctly 100% of the time when cycling (I use an older chest strap, not ANT+ with my Garmin Forerunner 301).

And there's no good reason why the technologies shouldn't co-exist.

I suppose one possible issue might be uni-polar leads (they tend to produce a large pacing artefact on the ECG).  Almost everyone these days has bi-polar leads and these produce a tiny pacing artefact.  Of course, it's possible to have bipolar leads where one lead is being used in unipolar mode...

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