What Does Heart Rate Variability Tell Us
HRV can reveal information about cardiovascular health and fitness.
Generally, a higher HRV is a good sign of heart health and cardiovascular fitness.4
Athletes tend to have greater degrees of cardiovascular fitness since exercise training improves the heart’s efficiency. Because of this, they also tend to have higher HRVs.6 Athletes may use HRV as part of specific training protocols to enhance endurance and performance, though more research is needed to determine how best to incorporate HRV into training protocols.3,7
A higher HRV doesn’t always mean better heart health, though. For example, arrhythmias, which are potentially serious irregular heartbeats, can cause high HRV.4
Generally, reduced HRV is associated with an increased risk of death, arrhythmias, and heart attack.8 Abnormally low HRV has also been associated with early death, heart failure, arrhythmias, and sudden cardiac death.2
Aging, as well as conditions like inflammatory disease, chronic pain, mood disorders, and sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and insomnia can decrease HRV.4,9
Slow Heart Rate And Tired
Submitted by Dr T on April 13, 2013 9:12am
Unless you are an athlete , your slow heart rate and symptoms are abnormal, nor can your EKG look great.
If your heart beats too slowly, your brain and body might not get enough blood to function well, leading to any or all of the following symptoms:
- Fatigue, weakness
Do You Understand Heart Rate Variability
Heart rate variability can be an important indicator of your mental and physical health. Your HRV can also predict how well youre sleeping at night and warn you if you have a medical condition. Investing in a well-reviewed HRV monitor can help you make greater strides in your health journey.
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What Is A Normal Heart Rate Variability
Below is an average heart rate variability chart based on age:
The average heart rate variability range for WHOOP members broken down by age.
You can see that for the most part, HRV decreases abruptly as people get older. The middle 50% of 20-25 year olds usually have an average HRV in the 55-105 range, while 60-65 year olds tend to be between 25-45.
And while the figure above shows what technically falls under the umbrella of normal HRV, answering the question What is a good heart rate variability? is a lot more complicated.
Learn More:Average HRV Range by Age and Gender
Hrv Data Recording And Processing
Physiological data was recorded with the movisens ECG Move 3 sensor , an ambulatory monitoring system to collect high-quality ECG data. The sensor was attached with two disposable electrodes on the left chest and ECG data was sampled continuously at 1024 Hz. The raw Electrocardiogram data was visually inspected and divided into relevant segments using the Unisens viewer software . For the present study, the first three minutes of the WM task were analyzed to investigate HRV and HR responding when initially being confronted with WM task. Therefore, the segments of interest included the 3-min baseline phase, the first 3-min segments of the WM Block 1, and a 3-min recovery period, resulting in three segments . ECG data was visually inspected for artifacts and artifacts were removed. ECG data was imported in Kubios HRV 3.0 software to calculate inter-beat intervals and to calculate HRV parameters. A smooth priors detrending method was applied to detrend inter-beat time series. In line with the recommendations of the Task Force of the European Society , frequency domain measures were calculated by Fast Fourier Transform using Welch`s Periodogram . Physiological metrices heart rate in beats per minute and high frequency heart rate variability are reported in raw HF units and normalized units. Normalized units were used for the statistical analyses.
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Test Your Heart Rate Variability
Where does your HRV stand? You can find out at your doctors office through a standard ECG, or the wearing of a Holter Monitor. Or, you can take a HRV test with a special machine called a heart rate variability biofeedback device. The test lasts about 10 minutes and is painless. Your health care provider will place a strap around your chest that monitors heart beats. Half of these are measured while you lie on your back, and the rest, while you are standing. The machine measures the intervals between each heartbeat, and youll come out of the test with a score of high or low.
Heart Rate Variability Why Its Important And How To Train It
Most people are familiar with measurements of heart functioning like our heart rate and blood pressure, but have you ever heard of Heart Rate Variability ? If you have ever come to a Physio Yoga class or Physio Restore workshop then that answer would be yes, as I am always talking about it! As a measure of autonomic nervous system flexibility, it is an indicator of how flexible and efficient we are at revving up to respond to a stressor, and then revving back down to recover from it. And when we talk about stressors, this could be a physical stressor, such as racing to catch a bus, or a mental stressor, like worrying about being late for an important meeting.
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Heart Rate Variability Trends Are What Matters
When you begin using a heart rate variability monitor, you may notice that your HRV varies greatly from day to day. This can be attributed to the many factors that affect it , and is perfectly normal. If your friend has a higher HRV than you do today, that is not an indication that they are more fit than you are.
Rather than comparing your heart rate variability to others, a more practical use of HRV is to follow your own long-term trends. For example, if youre taking steps to improve your fitness and overall health, over time you should see a gradual increase in your average heart rate variability.
A positive trend in daily heart rate variability over a 3-month time period.
Similarly, a downward trend in your HRV over several days is worth paying attention to. Among other things, it might be a sign that youre training too hard, not sleeping enough, getting sick, eating poorly, or failing to hydrate properly.
How To Maintain A Normal Range Of Heart Rate Variability
Although genetic factors have a high say in this matter one can maintain a normal range of heart rate variability by maintaining proper health, sticking to a fitness regime, managing stress, and following recovery methods like meditation. As a thumb rule maintaining a stress-free life is the base rule for a normal range of HRV.
Although exact heart rate variability range is a tricky one to answer knowing it is good as you can be aware of your health condition by tracking HRV.
Sudheendra is a passionate blogger for 8 years and holds a Degree in Journalism & Mass Communications. His writings particularly focus on health, medicine, diet & lifestyle. For him, everything that interlinks and relates to health & medical world entices him. His write-ups aim at educating people not by just giving facts but by infusing human touch.
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Mistake 8 Not Using An Accurate Heart Rate Monitor
An inaccurate measurement means an inaccurate HRV value. The most important thing when using HRV as a tool for training or health is to get an accurate measurement. We regularly get the question of why heart rate monitors like the Fitbit Charge or other wrist-based PPG or pulse-oximetry monitors are not compatible for measuring HRV.
The simple answer is that many of these devices are not intended for measuring the more detailed heart rate fluctuations needed to calculate true HRV. They either do not record the RR intervals needed to calculate HRV or they provide smoothed, averaged, or altered RR intervals that remove the variability that makes up Heart Rate Variability.
These devices can be perfectly fine for measuring basic heart rate, but there is no such thing as a quick and dirty or good enough or almost accurate HRV measurement.
Heart Rate Variability values are a measure of normally imperceptible changes in heart beat activity that often correlate with activity of the Autonomic Nervous System. A quick and dirty measurement using an inaccurate device yields a completely useless HRV value that should not be used for decision making.
An important thing to note is that just because a HR monitor captures and transmits RR intervals does not necessarily mean it is accurate. Several popular wrist-based monitors on the market provide RR intervals, but they are smoothed, averaged, or altered and therefore cannot be used to calculate Heart Rate Variability.
The Downward Slope: Your Metabolism Working Overtime
The Downward Slope is a sign that your metabolism is working overtime. Did you have a late meal, a late workout, or a glass of wine before bed? If your RHR starts high and reaches its lowest point right before you wake up, you may start the day feeling groggy.
If you regularly see this downward slope, it may be wise to stop and reassess your evening routine. For example, if you normally work out late at night, exercising 12 hours earlier can result in positive changes.
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Prioritize Diet And Nutrition
Youve been told for years that eating a nutritious diet is one of the key components to maintaining your health.
While what you eat plays a prominent role in improving your HRV, its also vital to consider when you are eating and the effect the timing has on your circadian rhythm.
Research strongly suggests that specific nutrients and when you eat those nutrients can influence your HRV in a positive or negative way. According to the study, eating high fat or carbohydrate rich food can lower HRV, and keeping a healthy, balanced diet based on consistent meals will help maintain stable blood sugar, reduce bodily stress and promote good HRV.
Exercise And Resting Heart Rate
One study put participants through a 12-week aerobic conditioning program of cycling, Stairmaster, and running on a treadmill. Participants dropped their resting heart rate down from an average of 69 to 66, a 3 point drop. When they stopped the aerobic program, however, their resting heart rate went back to around 69 again.
It appears that you must continue exercising to keep your resting heart rate lower. What else can you do?
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How Does Heart Rate Variability Work
Your heart beats at a specific rate at all times. That rate changes depending on what you’re doing at the time. Slower heart rates happen when you’re resting or relaxed, and faster rates happen when you’re active, stressed or when youre in danger. There is variability in your heart rate based on the needs of your body and your respiratory patterns. Certain medications and medical devices such as pacemakers can also affect your heart rate variability. Your heart rate variability also tends to decrease normally as you get older.
Whether youre awake or asleep, calm or stressed, your heart has to be able to react to changes in your life and surroundings. But it doesnt know when to react on its own, so it relies on another body system for help.
Parasympathetic vs sympathetic branches and heart rate variability
Your brain and nervous system support your heart. Your senses sight, sound, smell, taste and touch feed information to your brain about everything around you. Your brain has a direct line to your heart, telling your heart when it needs to speed up and work harder.
This direct line to your heart is your autonomic nervous system. This is a part of your brain and a set of nerves that operate without you thinking of them, even when youre asleep. Its divided into two main parts: your sympathetic nervous system and your parasympathetic nervous system.
In general, the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems work like so:
How Does Hrv Biofeedback Work
Heart rate variability biofeedback training targets the baroreceptors located in the walls of our aorta and carotid arteries. The baroreceptors are sensors in the artery walls that respond rapidly to changes in blood pressure to keep blood pressure stable and protect the heart from problems or dysregulations such as arrhythmias. The mechanism whereby the baroreceptors regulate blood pressure is called the “baroreflex.
Heart rate variability biofeedback treatment strengthens and improves the sensitivity/efficiency of our baroreceptors , helping to more efficiently control blood pressure. By increasing heart rate variability through biofeedback, the patient is improving the baroreflex which would translate into having “a more sensitive thermostat” to regulate your blood pressure more effectively and safely. A more sensitive “baroreflex” has strong positive prognostic value.
Physicians used to believe that a patient could not improve their baroreflex, and while they felt that this would be extremely useful to the patient, they felt it to be a pipe dream. Fortunately, with the development of HRV biofeedback, today we know that it can be improved without drugs or invasive procedures. In essence, the core purposes for heart rate variability biofeedback are to optimize autonomic nervous system regulation, improve the baroreflex, potentially decrease risk for cardiovascular events, and increase our capacity to handle day to day stress better.
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Hrv 101 Pt : The Link Between Heart Rate Variability And Stress
The term heart rate variability, or HRV for short, is gaining notoriety lately. The definition is quite intuitive to the name its a measure of the variability between heartbeats, a function controlled by your autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system has two parts: the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system .
When To Contact A Doctor
If the rate or rhythm of the heartbeat becomes irregular or is causing distressing symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention.
Even if there does not appear to be any danger, a doctor can provide assistance in reducing the risk of complications.
If a person is experiencing the following symptoms, all of which are symptoms of a heart attack, someone needs to call 911:
Why Is My Heart Rate Variability So Low
Heart Rate Variability is a health biomarker that can be improved. A low HRV should be a reminder to change your lifestyle. Discover how.
The correlation of HRV with health and disease is not new and was already described in the 1960s. In 1996, the European Society of Cardiology and the North American Society of Pacing and Electrophysiology defined the standards and guidelines to measure and interpret the HRV in the context of Healthcare.
Nowadays, Heart Rate Variability is ubiquitously used and is at the core of numerous smartwatches, from sleep to blood pressure, stress, general fitness, and even fertility. In addition, athletes use HRV immediately exercising to assess the quality of their training and general fitness level.
Most of us have heard that having a high HRV is a sign of good health, but what about a low Heart Rate Variability? What are the underlying physiological reasons, and should we be concerned when we experience a low HRV episode?
What Is The Difference Between Heart Rate And Hrv
Your heart rate shows you how many times your heart beats in a minute, measured as beats per minute , whereas HRV shows you the time interval between two heartbeats, measured in milliseconds .
Although your heart rate may be 60 bpm, it does not mean that there has been a gap of one second between two heartbeats. One set of heartbeats may be at an interval of 1.3 seconds, whereas the next two may be at an interval of 0.7 seconds.
Your HRV is influenced by several physical and psychological factors and is an important parameter to measure whether your ANS is healthy or imbalanced. HRV may be monitored using a specialized continuous electrocardiogram monitoring device or commonly available heart rate monitors.
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Why An Increasing Trend Is Thought To Always Be A Good Thing
Increases in aerobic fitness have often been associated with increases in cardiac-parasympathetic activity in a variety of individual and team sport athletes. A common observation is that those who improve fitness also improve HRV, while those who do not improve fitness show either no change or even decreases. For example, a study by Buchheit and colleagues11 demonstrated that subjects who improved their 10K run time following a training program also showed a progressive increase in their HRV, while non-responders showed no meaningful changes. Large correlations between changes in HRV and maximum aerobic speed and 10K time trials were found.
A recent study of ours currently in press12 evaluated how early changes in HRV relate to eventual changes in intermittent running capacity in team-sport athletes. We found that athletes who demonstrated an increase in their HRV weekly mean and/or a decrease in their weekly HRV CV at the halfway point of a 5-week training program improved performance to a greater extent than those showing the opposite HRV changes. In light of studies like these, interpretation of an increasing HRV trend as being a positive response to training has become popular.
How Hrv Is Related To Fitness
Your heart rate variability doesnt directly reflect your level of fitness. In other words, just because someone has a higher HRV than you, doesnt make them fitter than you. I know plenty of people who have a higher HRV than I have but theyre not fitter than I am.
However, if your HRV is low while youre not actively engaged in a sympathetic activity , its a sign that your body is working hard for some other reason, such as fatigue, illness, stress or overtraining. If thats the case, youll likely have fewer resources at your disposal to crush your next workout.
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