Heart Rate Variability (HRV) is a powerful reflection of the body's adaptation to stressors in its environment. HRV is ascertained by observing the variation in the time intervals between normal heartbeats, the intrinsic rhythm of which is modulated by the vagus nerve. Low HRV is correlated with, and in many cases predictive of, decreased health; conversely, higher HRV is associated with peak athletic performance and may be predictive of healthy longevity. Anything that improves HRV, then, may be anticipated to improve human health, and may be protective against disease and dysfunction.
HRV can be modulated by both chemical and natural means. For instance, certain drugs are known to have an effect on HRV (statins, SSRIs), and omega 3 fatty acids and green tea can also change HRV, as can exercise training. Recently, the potential benefits of chiropractic care on HRV have been described in several peer-reviewed research papers. One of these projects was the work of Dr. Amy Haas, with the help and participation of her patients here at Path of Life Chiropractic, and editorial contribution by a leader in Chiropractic research, David Russell, BSc (Psych), BSc (Chiro), Cert TT. This work is unique in that it demonstrates sustained (rather than temporary) improvements in HRV that occur progressively over a course of continual chiropractic care delivered to correct vertebral subluxations. While many different interventions can change HRV temporarily, lasting improvements to HRV suggest an overall enhanced ability to adapt, and therefore would be predicted to lead to improved health and well-being.
Read this paper to gain a deeper understanding of HRV as a health indicator and of its potential utility to Chiropractic, and to get a glimpse of what will be a strong area of ongoing and future research and development for the field of Chiropractic care.