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What Your Heart Rate Variability Tells You About Your Health

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

heart rate variability

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  • Your heart rate variability (HRV) is a measure of the variations in time elapsed between your heartbeats, and is representative of your heart’s ability to respond to physiological and environmental stressors
  • A healthy heart rhythm is not perfectly even. When your heartrate is monotonously regular, your HRV will be low. Low HRV is associated with autonomic nervous system (ANS) impairment, which reduces your body’s ability to cope with stressors
  • When your HRV is high, the intervals between heartbeats is large and irregular, and this is an indication of augmented resilience against stress. High HRV is also indicative of greater cardiovascular fitness
  • Research shows the parasympathetic activity of patients with ischemic heart disease is one-third lower, on average, than that of a healthy individual, and low HRV is a strong and independent predictor of mortality after an acute myocardial infarction
  • High blood pressure, smoking, diabetes and stress decrease your parasympathetic activity, thus raising your risk of a cardiac event. Factors that upregulate your parasympathetic nervous system and protect your heart include dietary nitrates that stimulate nitric oxide production and foods or supplements that stimulate acetylcholine production, such as eggs and other choline-rich foods

Your heart rate variability (HRV) is a measure of the variations in time elapsed between your heartbeats, and is representative of your heart’s ability to respond to physiological and environmental stress stimuli.

Contrary to what might seem logical at first glance, a healthy heart rhythm is not perfectly even. When your heartrate is “monotonously regular,” your HRV will be low. Low HRV is associated with autonomic nervous system (ANS) impairment, which reduces your body’s ability to cope with stressors, be they internal or external.


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