What is Heart Rate Variability?
The Science Book Version: Heart Rate Variability (HRV) is a quantitative analysis of autonomic nervous system function. It’s a window to look at the control and coordination of the autonomic nervous system by observing that control directly on the heart rate under various states of stress. This technology is based on the assessment of the RR wave interval derived from ECG.
The Translation: HRV technology is a time-lapse picture of how your nervous system is functioning. It compares the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system and analyzes how well they balance.
The sympathetic nervous system is your “survival mode.”
Let’s say you’re walking down the street and you see a raging dog. Your natural reaction is to turn and run! This running takes a lot of energy.
At that moment you would want your body to focus its energy on your muscles and respiratory system, rather than your digestion and blood pressure. That is the sympathetic nervous system. This states detects the threat through your five senses and puts your body in survival mode. Your body would then be focusing all of its resources on you running away.
When your sympathetic nervous system is stimulated, your digestion is inhibited.
The parasympathetic nervous system does the opposite. The parasympathetic nervous system is your body’s “recovery mode.” When your body doesn’t detect danger, you can relax and your parasympathetic nervous system is stimulated. This slows down the heart rate, stimulates digestion, as well as liver, bladder, and kidney function. The body begins to restore itself.
What Do You Learn By Measuring The Nervous System?
People in optimal health (like athletes) normally transition effortlessly between “survival mode” and “recovery mode.” However, when something is wrong with the body, like poor nutrition, injury, over-training in athletes, or even severe diseases like cancer, the transition becomes more difficult.
By using HRV technology to view the balance between these two systems before and after different types of treatment, a trained individual can be measured very quickly and accurately. We can see how well the balance has been restored, which is a major indicator of how well the treatment is working.*
Watch this video excerpt of Dr. Marrongelle speaking to a group of practitioners about what Heart Rate Variability technology does and how it’s used in his practice.