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Posted on 03-12-2018

HRV – Three Letters You Should Know        Article of the week March 12 to 16, 2018

This week I want to talk about a phenomenon known as heart rate variability (HRV).  You may be familiar with the term heart rate, which refers to the total number of times your heart beats in one minute.  HRV is a little bit different and refers to the amount of time between each heartbeat.  Did you know that everyone, including very healthy people, has variability in the length of time between heart beats?  A healthy heart beat has healthy irregularities.  For example, there may be 970 milliseconds (slightly less than a second) between two successive heart beats, and then 1100 milliseconds (slightly more than a second) between the next two heart beats.

When resting, it is desirable to have a high HRV.  Having a higher HRV means you have more variance between your heart beats.  Scientists have shown that higher HRV is a sign that your heart is more flexible and your body has a strong ability to tolerate the different stresses we all encounter.  Having a low HRV means that there is less variability in the amount of time between heart beats.  Scientists have shown that having a low HRV is a sign that your body is less capable of dealing with stress.  To summarize, you want to do things that help you maintain a high HRV and prevent a low HRV.

One of the reasons HRV is so important is because having a low HRV is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and death!  To grow old in a healthy way, you definitely want to do things that maintain a high HRV.  Cardiovascular exercise such as walking or cycling regularly increases your HRV.  And now for the take home point of this article of the week...adjustments also increase HRV.  Specifically upper cervical (neck) adjustments were found to have this effect.  Go to the following link if you would like to see for yourself: 
J Altern Complement Med. 2013 Feb;19(2):92-6. doi: 10.1089/acm.2011.0031. Epub 2012 Sep 20.

The reason chiropractic adjustments influence your HRV is because they balance your autonomic nervous system.  I have written in the past about your autonomic nervous system which is the part of your nervous system that automatically controls your heart rate, breathing, digestion and more, without you consciously controlling it. 

The autonomic nervous system consists of the parasympathetic nervous system which is active when you are at rest or digesting food, and the sympathetic nervous system which is active when you are active and busy or in a “fight or flight” situation.  In people under chronic stress, the fight or flight part of their nervous system rarely if ever turns off, and their bodies are constantly flooded with stress hormones.  It is essential to take measures to balance your autonomic nervous system so that your body can effectively respond to stress and adapt to it so that it does not cause disease in the long-term.

Whether you are a child or an adult, a regular adjustment schedule helps your body achieve a condition called homeostasis, which simply means your body is in balance and adapting to life and its stresses as they unfold.  Increasing HRV is one more example of why ongoing chiropractic care moves your body away from disease and sickness and toward optimal health and well-being so that you can grow old with vitality. 

Yours in Health,

Dr. Tim

Grace Chiropractic – 1-3230 Monarch Drive – 705-323-9100 – http://gracechiropractic.ca

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