Heart Rate Variability

Heart Rate Variability

by Dr. Fareen

Heart Rate Variability is a biomarker that gives us some important information about our body’s physiology. It measures how much the interval length between heartbeats varies. 

Increased Heart Rate Variability is associated with decreased morbidity and mortality and increased health outcomes.

A healthy heart does not beat at regular intervals. The more irregular the interval between heart beats, the healthier the heart. 

Heart Rate Variability is regulated by our nervous system and can be used as a marker of nervous system function. 

The Parasympathetic Nervous System (which governs our body’s rest, digest and healing and maintains cellular homeostasis) increases Heart Rate Variability. It slows the heart rate and increases HRV to restore homeostasis after stress passes. 

The Sympathetic Nervous System (our fight or flight response) decreases Heart Rate Variability. It activates our stress hormone production and increases the heart’s contraction rate and force (cardiac output) and decreases HRV. 

This natural interplay between the two nervous systems allows the heart to quickly respond to different situations and needs. The way we process information, process stress, produce hormones, make sense of the world and in particular the way we breathe, all affect Heart Rate Variability. 

If you have a fit bit or smart watch you can use it to track your heart rate variability.

Posted by Dr. Fareen

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