What is Heart Rate Variability Measurement? Why do I need it?

We are thankful to have the Pulse Wave Profiler to measure states of health and dis-ease, and overall balance in the nervous system. 

Heart Rate Variability (HRV) and its measurement have become the gold standard in observing and managing stress reactions in cardiology, sports performance and psychology practices. HRV testing is a simple and accurate test that uses complex mathematical calculations to analyze the rates and rhythms of the resting heart beat pattern. The data can be evaluated to reveal the intricate balance between the Sympathetic(S) Nervous System and the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PS), a powerful indicator in disease process and in overall well-being.  The Sympathetic nervous system is active in stressful states, and the Parasympathetic is active in relaxed states.  By measuring which state you are primarily in, we can assess your stress levels.

The Pulse Wave Profiler (PWP) is research-grade equipment that allows the doctor to quickly assess the effect that long term stress is having on the general state of a patient’s well-being. The PWP scan is also an ideal way to monitor the overall improvements accomplished while under your program.

How does HRV measure the effects of Chronic Stress? 

The origins of Heart Rate Variability go back to clinical studies 40 years earlier. At that time the Autonomic Nervous System (or ANS, the system that controls automatic functions, organs, and hormones in the body) was not examined as a complete system interacting with psychological and physiological factors. Polygraphs were the first bridge to show how an emotional state impacted the physiology. In those years the accuracy of measuring the heart’s variability in rate was low.  Today the technology exists in the PWP to detect these stress states and help us intervene early enough to make a difference. 

Simply put, HRV is a representation of the balance existing between the Sympathetic(S) and Parasympathetic (PS) portions of the ANS. If there is increased regularity of the heartbeat there is decreased variability and vice versa. The heart rate is measured using ECG’s or pulse wave profiles (plethysmograms). Increased S-tone relates to decreased variability. Increased PS-tone increases variability. An increase in variability is synonymous with the increased adaptability to environmental stimuli (less overall stress). A decrease in variability has been linked to any number of deteriorating physiologic states.  HRV is not an exact diagnosis of disease but rather an indicator of the present state of adaptability.

The ANS is involved in all disease states and is critical in promoting a desirable state of wellness and performance. By producing hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, the sympathetic system stimulates a fight-flight response. This is what we are measuring.