Technology in health care is constantly evolving, but rarely do doctors find a newly available tool that can quickly and easily measure short-term and long-term health. Thanks to technological advances, Heart Rate Variability (HRV) is one the of latest ways doctors are monitoring patient health.
How does HRV work?
HRV looks at heart rate but instead of measuring the amount of times your heart beats per minute, it measures the variation in time between heartbeats in milliseconds.
Regular tracking can help doctors determine when patients’ bodies are stressed and prone to breakdown over the course of a day or a week and how adaptable their nervous system is. Depending on which daily activities may coincide with certain trends, patients who regularly track HRV can see how lack of sleep, ingestion of alcohol or a meditation session impacts their health. More importantly, HRV can help predict larger health concerns, illness, injury and mental or emotional dysregulations.
Chiropractors and allopathic doctors have already started using HRV to help their patients manage their lifestyle and long-term health. Here are four reasons why this important tool will likely be used well into the future.
1. HRV tracking can be done at home
The best part about HRV tracking is that it is affordable and accessible to everyone. Because it requires consistency, tracking from home is actually preferred over measurements taken in physician offices.
The devices are wearable, smart technology with built-in sensory capabilities. They come in varying forms, including straps placed around the chest, arm bands, wrist bands, ear lobe sensors or rings.
Any open-source Bluetooth device can be used to track HRV data, allowing for an array of trackers on the market. Whichever device is chosen, the user needs to be consistent with that one as each device reads a bit differently. Patients can also use mobile phone apps for tracking and sharing HRV data. These can all be found in the app store for IOS or Android.
Via Bluetooth/WiFi, data can be immediately uploaded from anywhere in the world to the doctor’s web-dashboard, depending on the application used. Optimal HRV, for example, is one app with this feature. This is where doctors can view all of their patients’ HRV data and histories at anytime.
2. HRV can help doctors and patients form a closer relationship
HRV can help deepen the connection between healthcare practitioners and their patients.
A doctor can reach out when they see a poor HRV trend emerging. This opens the door to new conversations a patient may not have considered sharing with their doctor. For example, a patient may not consider talking to their chiropractor about their constipation. A poor HRV trend may open this conversation and the doctor can now educate the patient on how their therapies can help.
These kinds of conversations and opportunities can help form a trust and bond between patient and practitioner that may have never been possible before.
3. HRV can help guide a patient’s day-to-day choices
As patients begin to track the data over longer periods of time, they can see trends emerging that will help to guide some of their life’s choices.
A patient may realize that every Wednesday seems to be their most powerful day of the week. As a result, they can organize their schedules so their most important work and/or meetings happen at their most powerful time. Equally, they can prepare properly for something important that may fall outside of their “best” time.
4. HRV can make health care more individualized
Using HRV data, patients and their health care practitioners can proactively use the bio-information gathered to allow for personalized treatment programs.
HRV may capture the prolonged emotional stress patients might be experiencing, but not necessarily discussing with their doctors. If continued unchecked, it could lead to a serious illness. When a chiropractic physician or other health care provider evaluates this trend based on the data provided, they can intervene with treatment therapies, particularly those that reduce stress and implement a plan of action. If warranted, it may create the opportunity to make a referral to another health care practitioner to co-treat or transfer care, whatever is in the patient’s best interest.
When patients are regularly tracking HRV, doctors can understand their global health from a whole new perspective. This is vital for health care practitioners and patients. HRV helps take the focus off the presenting complaint and see the whole patient.