This Wednesday, Dr. S will be discussing Heart rate variability (HRV). HRV is simply a measure of the variation in time between each heartbeat. It is measured by the variation in the beat-to-beat interval, which is controlled by a primitive part of the nervous system called the autonomic nervous system (ANS). It works regardless of our desire and regulates, among other things, our heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, and digestion.
During the life span, this variation in heart rate varies. The difference in heart rate could be as much as 50 or more beats per minute. For example, a 20-year old might have an HRV of 56-104 beats per minute. The mechanics of HRV at a basic level are easy to understand. When a person inhales, heart rate goes up and oxygen is more rapidly delivered to the human body. When a person exhales, heart rate begins to go down as the body is expelling CO2.
As we get older and progress through life and its various stressors, we often take on a pattern of unhealthy or reverse breathing and our breath rates increase, becomes more shallow, and we are not using diaphragmatic breathing techniques. This type of breathing pattern is often associated with stress and works against relaxation of the mind and body.
HRV coupled with proper guidance and understanding of how HRV works can help a person learn to become more relaxed, have better focus and concentration and better overall health. Software such as emWave® is available to professionals to help patients learn proper breathing technique. Other devices such as RESPeRATE™ can further assist the professional in helping a client/patient learn proper breathing technique.
Interestingly, and like other forms of biofeedback and relaxation therapies and techniques; teaching proper breathing techniques has its benefits as well as its risks.
Practicing relaxation techniques can have many benefits, including: slowing heart rate, lowering blood pressure, slowing your breathing rate, reducing activity of stress hormones, increasing blood flow to major muscles, and reducing muscle tension and chronic pain.
Like other forms of relaxation therapy, HRV can result is negative side effects including, relaxation-induced anxiety and panic, paradoxical increases in tension, and parasympathetic rebound.
While risks may be apparent, the benefits of HRV far exceed the risks, so, join us on Wednesday, February 20, 2019 to learn more about HRV.