Heart Rate Variability (HRV) and the Spinal Connection
With a recent explosion of companies, apps, and even Apple Watch touting the ability to read your HRV, this longstanding staple of health analysis has recently made its way into the spotlight of the healthcare community.
HRV, or Heart Rate Variability, is a measure of the length of time between each heartbeat. This was traditionally measured by electrocardiogram, but there are now a host of wrist cuffs, chest bands, and smartphone apps that can give you an HRV estimate outside of a hospital. There is an ideal window for your reading to fall into, but in general a reading on the higher end indicates greater variability, and that the body is better able to “rapidly adjust to sudden physical and psychological challenges,” according to a NIH study.
A lower HRV can indicate “worsening depression or anxiety,” a Harvard study warns, as it suggests that your body is inhibited from processing stressors in an optimal way. HRV is also directly affected by the functionality of your autonomic nervous system (ANS), which regulates automatic functions like heart rate, digestion, and breathing.
By monitoring your HRV, you and your provider can assess the point you might be at and create long-term goals aimed at improving your variability. There are many different approaches to this, but our office uses the acronym DREAMS: Diet, Rest, Exercise, Alignment, Mindset, and Stress management.
Alignment is of course at our core, with studies showing Chiropractic to have a positive effect on HRV due to nerve connections from the spine. For lifelong health goals it’s also important to include regular HRV checkups and a complete Chiropractic exam to create a complete picture of your wellness lifestyle.
By Dr. Bryen A. Bell, a Board-Certified Chiropractic Physician with over 20 years of professional experience. Contact Dr. Bell at True Potential Chiropractic family care facility. Call 503-574-4872 or visit tpcportland.com. Photo by Unsplash