What is HRV biofeedback

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Heart Rate Variability

It is believed that Heart Rate Variability (HRV) will become as common as pulse, blood pressure or temperature in patient charts in the near future. In the last ten years more than 2000 published articles have been written about HRV. HRV has been used as a screening tool in many disease processes. Various medical disciplines are looking at HRV. In diabetes and heart disease it has been proven to be predictive of the likelihood of future events. In 1996, a special task force was formed between the US and European Physiological associations to outline current finds on HRV and set specific standards on using HRV in medical science and future practice. Since then a steady stream of new information and value continues to come out of HRV research.

It all started in 1966 when a variation in the beat-to-beat intervals between heartbeats was noticed. Initially all recording devices were averaging heart rate data stream trying to get rid of any rapid HR fluctuations. Then there were very specific patterns in such fluctuations were noticed that had links to certain conditions way before any clinical symptoms appeared.

Physiological Basics of HRV

The origin of heartbeat is located in a sino-atrial (SA) node of the heart, where a group of specialized cells continuously generates an electrical impulse spreading all over the heart muscle through specialized pathways and creating process of heart muscle contraction well synchronized between both atriums and ventricles. The SA node generates such impulses about 100-120 times per minute at rest. However in healthy individual resting heart rate (HR) would never be that high. This is due to continuous control of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) over the output of SA node activity, which net regulatory effect gives real HR. In healthy subject at rest it is ranging between 50 and 70 beats per minute.

HRV Analysis

The heart rate variability analysis is a powerful tool in assessment of the autonomic function. It is accurate, reliable, reproducible, yet simple to measure and process. The source information for HRV is a continuous beat-by-beat measurement of interbeat intervals. The electrocardiograph (ECG or EKG) is considered as the best way to measure interbeat intervals. ECG is an electrical signal measured with special conductive electrodes placed on chest around heart area or limbs. It reflects minute changes in electrical field generated by heart muscle cells originating from its SA node. ECG signal has a very specific and robust waveform simple to detect and analyze. Because of that cardiac rhythm derived from ECG is the best way to detect not only true sinus rhythm but all types of ectopic heartbeats, which must be excluded from consideration of HRV analysis.

(source: www.biocomtech.com)