Heart Rate Variability
Heart Rate Variability
Heart Rate Variability measures the inter-beat variability between successive heart contractions. It is an easily accessible biomarker of health seen to determine the overall capacity of human biology at the molecular, cellular, physiologic, organismal, and systems levels. It is also an accurate and objective monitor of the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS), making HRV an accurate and objective monitor of overall health. It is easily accessible and can be monitored daily in just a few minutes.
In the past, we needed expensive hospital-grade ECG machines to measure HRV accurately. Interpreting results took a great deal of time and expertise. Advancements in technology have now made monitoring HRV accessible through affordable consumer hardware and smartphone applications that allow easy access to this helpful information.
Autonomic Nervous System Imbalance & Disease
Most common deadly diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer are linked to autonomic nervous system imbalance. HRV is the best noninvasive measure of ANS activity and balance. We can use HRV’s measure of autonomic imbalance to predict health and mortality in high-risk and low-risk populations.
Changes in HRV have been correlated to nine of the ten leading causes of death in the United States, including:
- Heart disease
- Chronic lower respiratory disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Influenza and pneumonia
- Nephritis & nephrosis
- Intentional self-harm (suicide)
HRV is linked to many of the risk factors associated with these diseases, such as hypertension, obesity, glucose intolerance, insulin sensitivity, stress, etc. Autonomic imbalance is also a marker of inflammation and immune dysfunction.
HRV can quantify the amount of stress our body is under so we can regulate and manage it before serious issues occur. One approach to this is through biofeedback.
HRV Biofeedback is the process of monitoring live HRV and using the feedback information in conjunction with changes in thinking, emotions, and behavior to support desired physiological outcomes. HRV biofeedback can enable an individual to learn how to influence their ANS for improved health and performance. You can use your monitor to see how a new mindfulness, meditation, or breathing technique affects your physiology in real-time. There is clear evidence supporting the benefits of live HRV biofeedback training, which show:
- effectiveness in improving emotional state
- effectiveness in improving unmanageable depression
- effectiveness in improving the tone of the Vagus Nerve, which strengthens autonomic and immune resilience
Why We Use HRV
HRV is a validated tool for evaluating your health status and guiding your health related decisions. It links directly into the nervous system, which allows us to see a big picture view of our overall health. Following HRV trends over time is an invaluable tool that will help to lead us down the path of discovering ideal health.