Heart rate variability (HRV) is the variability in your heart rate from one normal beat to the next normal beat. It is one of the most important factors in the health of your cardiovascular system. It is often thought that it is healthy to have an exact heart rhythm, similar to the second hand on a clock. But this type of rhythm (without the proper amount of variability) is actually very dangerous. Yet, it is also possible to have too much variability. What one wants to achieve, is a “healthy” level of HRV. As it turns out, HRV is a powerful reflection of the adaptability and vitality of your autonomic nervous system (ANS). The ANS directs the most vital systems of the body and lives at the edge of your conscious and unconscious mind. It has two major branches: 1. the sympathetic branch (like a gas pedal, also called the “flight or fight” response) and the parasympathetic branch (like a brake pedal, also called the “rest and digest” response). The balance between these two components of the ANS not only determines your HRV, but is one of the most important factors affecting your overall health.
Poor HRV is a sign of ANS imbalance and this imbalance is a primary cause of numerous disease processes to include cardiovascular disease (CVD). To have a balanced ANS, you have to ‘exercise’ this system. Just as you may do ‘push-ups’ to strengthen arm muscles; you must do ‘push-ups’ to strengthen and balance your ANS. How does one accomplish this?
Awareness is one of the keys to achieving ANS balance. You have to know what your system is doing, in order to choose how to strengthen it. The more common imbalance is to have too much sympathetic drive and not enough input from the parasympathetic division. This can lead to hardening of the arteries, irregular heart rhythms, heart failure, hypertension, inflammation, and increased risk for a heart attack or stroke.
To have a better understanding of how your ANS is functioning, you can schedule an ‘Autonomic Assessment’ which will provide detailed information on the state of your ANS. Based on the results of this testing, an appropriate treatment plan can be provided which may include lifestyle changes, daily exercises such as HeartMath, deep breathing, meditation, etc., and targeted supplementation.
Call Expanding Choices today at 505-340-0700 to schedule your evaluation and KNOW your HRV and the state of your ANS. We also provide HeartMath training to help you balance your ANS and help you to better access the wisdom of your heart!