What is Heart Rate Variability (HRV)?


Heart Rate Variability (HRV) is the physiological phenomenon of variation in the time interval between heart beats. It is measured by the variation in the beat to beat intervals. We call this the time domain. A healthy heart rate variability is reflected by lots of variation in the time domain between successive heart beats. This would indicate a very robust autonomic nervous system. Someone with less variation between one heart beat to the next has low heart rate variability and indicates decreased autonomic nervous system regulation. The importance of Heart Rate Variability is that it is controlled by the autonomic nervous system and therefore is a window into its function. The autonomic nervous system automatically influences the visceral organs, smooth muscle such as the blood vessels and glands and obviously a big influence on the heart. There are 2 branches to the autonomic nervous system, the Sympathetic nervous system and the Parasympathetic nervous system. The Sympathetic nervous system deals with stress situations and is sometimes referred to as the fight or flight system and is triggered by any stress such as conscious or unconscious psychoemotional stress, toxins and electromagnetic influences. The opposite is the Parasympathetic nervous system and is coined the rest and digest system.



To recap, the Sympathetic nervous system is involved in mobilizing energy and resources for survival and the Parasympathetic nervous system is involved in conserving energy and is highly involved with digestion. One is the gas pedal and the other is the brakes.



The second component of Heart Rate Variability besides the time domain is the spectral analysis. The ECG is broken down into very specific frequency band widths that correspond to specific functions. Low frequency, for example, has to do with the Sympathetic nervous system and high frequency has to do with Parasympathetic nervous system function. Within these various frequency bandwidths is the proprietary information unique to the HeartQuest© that can tell us information about meridians and other systems of the body that other heart rate variability technologies don’t have available.


This HeartQuest© HRV system is designed for research and education. It should be used to see how various treatments performed in your office based on your scope of practice affect the regulatory systems seen on the HRV. This site is not for the purpose of selling the HQ but strictly for education.