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What Is Heart Rate Variability and Why It’s An Indicator Of Stress?

18 Apr, 2022

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Overview

Digitization of health care services has provided so many tools and means that can measure most of our vitals. And the best thing is, that we can monitor our blood pressure, calories burned, heart rate, respiratory rate, and oxygen saturation from the convenience of our home.

Researchers have been looking into heart rate variability (HRV) as a possible indicator of resilience and behavioral flexibility. Here we have discussed HRV in detail, the correlation of such parameters with stress, and many more.

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What is Heart rate variability?

Heart rate variability (HRV) is a measurement of the time difference between each heartbeat. Even if the heart appears to beat uniformly, the period between beats might vary by milliseconds.

However, we should remember the fact that heart rate variability is not similar to heart rate which suggests the number of times the heart beats in one minute.

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As everyone has a unique HRV, it cannot be tested against a chart, range, or averages. It's natural for a person's HRV to fluctuate from day to day and season to season. HRV can be influenced by a person's age, gender, and even circadian rhythm.

How does this work?

Our heart rate changes based on our actions at a specific time. Slower heart rates occur when you are resting or relaxed, and quicker rates occur when you are active, stressed, or in danger.

Your heart rate varies depending on your body's needs and your respiratory patterns. Certain medications and medical devices, such as pacemakers, might also have an impact on your heart rate variability. As you become older, your heart rate variability naturally decreases.

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Your heart must be able to react to changes in your life and environment whether you are awake or asleep, calm or anxious. It doesn't know when to react on its own, so it seeks assistance from another body system.

How can we measure HRV?

The heart rate variation is very small. So it requires specialized equipment to track the device and detect them. These days non-medical devices that are specific enough to track heart rate variability are easy to find and affordable too.

Tracking HRV can help people discover what stressors are present in their lives and how to manage them more effectively; for example, if HRV is low, it may indicate that rest is needed.

Heart rate variability can be measured in a variety of ways, including:

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG): This is the most accurate approach to measure HRV when performed in a medical context.
  • The best technique to assess HRV at home is with a chest strap heart monitor.
  • Watches and apps: their accuracy varies greatly, and they are not as dependable as chest strap cardiac monitors or electrocardiograms.

Also, read - ASD Symptoms & Causes

How does HRV affect your heart?

Your body has a number of systems and features that allow it to adapt to where you are and what you are doing. The variability of your heart reveals how adaptive your body is.

If your heart rate is highly variable, it is usually an indication that your body can adjust to a wide range of changes. People who have a high heart rate variability tend to be less anxious and happier.

Low heart rate variability is generally regarded as a symptom of current or future health concerns since it indicates that your body is less adaptable and struggles to adapt to changing circumstances.

Also, read - Healthy Heart Tips

Is heart rate variability similar to arrhythmia?

Heart rate variability is a natural occurrence and doesn’t satisfy the conditions of arrhythmia itself.

The typical heartbeat is referred to as "sinus rhythm." Sinus arrhythmia occurs when your heart is beating regularly but the variability between heartbeats is larger than 0.12 seconds. Sometimes heart rate variability meets the requirements for sinus arrhythmia.

In most cases, sinus arrhythmia is caused by breathing. However, when sinus arrhythmia is not caused by breathing, you should consult your doctor as early as possible. This might indicate other heart problems and might need immediate assessment.

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Conclusion-By simply packing their medical journey to India, pediatric cardiac treatment can substantially benefit the patient. We also offer a comprehensive range of counseling for coping with emotional changes to our international patients.

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FAQs

Heart Rate Variability (HRV) refers to the variation in time between consecutive heartbeats, which reflects the adaptability of the heart to different situations.