How Heart Rhythm Patterns Reflect Fitness, Health, Aging, and Illness
Measuring the heart rate as a significant indicator of one’s state of health has been around for hundreds of years. As successful as it is as a reflection of health, it is still a rather general indicator, not providing enough detail on any given individual.
However, over thirty years ago it was noticed that if the heart rate is looked at more closely on a micro-scale, it does not beat at what we perceive to be a steady rate but, in reality, has considerable variability in its rate of beating. The heart actually oscillates around a mean frequency in a statistical fashion. What appears to be steady beat of, for example, 80 beats per minute, is in fact not steady. On a micro-level the intervals between successive heart beats varies substantially from beat to beat. And what has been determined, with over the three decades of research, is that the more variability there is, the more fit and healthy the person. Two people with a heart rate of 80 beats per minutes could differ enormously in their state of health depending upon their personal heart rate variability.
Additionally, the degree of variability that exists was also found to be reflective of one’s automatic balance and degree of homeostasis. The automatic nervous system controls over 90% of the body’s actions, interfacing with all other systems of the body, and its assessment mirrors the body’s regulatory efforts. The behavior of its sympathetic (SNS) and parasympathetic (PSNS) branches literally reflects how well we respond, recover, and adapt on a daily basis or, in essence, how well we move through life.
We are much like an automobile driving through this obstacle course of life, so to speak.
How well do we use our accelerator and gas (SNS Response), how good are our breaks (PSNS Recovery), how well do we maneuver around traffic (Adaptability) and what is the wear and tear rate in doing so (Resilience)? With the examination of one’s heart rhythm pattern a clearly visual HRV “ wave portrait” or fingerprint of an individual’s regulation process can be ascertained.
People are either healthy or sick to varying degrees. Health and illness exists on a continuum and HRV Analysis is a proven, acceptable and reliable means of measuring where one falls on that continuum. In effect one’s overall level of functioning, degree of adaptability, level of resilience and the amount of progress they are making with therapy can be quantified through this methodology of Heart Rate Variability Analysis.
Benefits of HRV Testing
- Evaluate the current activity of both branches of the autonomic nervous system (hyper-hypo function/excessive-insufficient)
- Assess overall regulatory efforts e.g., how hard are you working to maintain or deal with your current state of health – Stress Load
- Track the effects of medications, supplements, and other therapies
- Measure and monitor performance of fitness
- Customize and optimize therapeutic protocols
- Follow the speed and direction of movement along the health continuum (rate of aging)
- Probe for early detection and intervention