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Dr. Hopper’s research on HRV and sleep apnea takes him across the country

by Jun 12, 2024

Home » News » Dr. Hopper’s research on HRV and sleep apnea takes him across the country

When David Hopper, DC, OMT, an NUHS Instructor in the Basic Sciences and Clinical Sciences departments, first got involved in research, he didn’t expect it to take him to over 20 different states. 

“My involvement with research was the result of my dad having a heart attack due to undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea,” he said. “I wanted to find out as much as I could.” 

Dr. Hopper got involved with research early on as an NUHS chiropractic medicine student. While health and wellness has always been a big part of his life, research, was something entirely new.  

“I had very little knowledge of what to do,” he said. 

After getting in touch with Gregory D. Cramer, DC, PhD, NUHS’s Dean of Research, he quickly became involved in an independent study course for conservative treatment of sleep apnea. His work involved searching all available research and putting together a best evidence table.  

When he graduated, he put the treatment plan right into practice with his patients.  

“At my private practice I was able to see some really awesome results and help my patients pretty significantly,” he said. 

Dr. Hopper also began research into heart-rate variability (HRV), a health monitoring tool that can indicate if a patient’s health is declining or inclining. In 2020, Dr. Hopper joined Optimal HRV as an owner and helped develop the app and Web dashboard, which allows patients and their doctors to monitor their health from anywhere in the world. Optimal HRV offers a mobile app, web dashboard for practitioners, and a device for measuring HRV. 

“It’s an emerging technology that’s affordable and easily accessible to everyone,” he said.  

HRV monitors the autonomic nervous system, a component of the peripheral nervous system that regulates involuntary processes such as heart rate, blood pressure, respiration, and digestion. If HRV is low for more than a couple of days, it indicates that a person is under a lot of stress (physical, chemical or emotional/psychological) and needs help to focus on recovery before something like illness, injury or mental/emotional breakdown happens. HRV can predict the onset of illness or injury up to two days before any symptoms are felt. 

When Dr. Hopper began developing the mobile app, he got to know many of the top researchers in HRV, including Inna Khazan, PhD, BCB, a faculty member at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Khazan asked him to speak with her at a national event about HRV and soon other speaking engagements followed. So far, he’s spoken to chiropractic associations across 20 different states. He also teaches a continuing education course for the Illinois Chiropractic Society and other private continuing education programs.  

Today, he sits on the board of the Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback (AAPB) and speaks at their convention each year. On June 20, Dr. Hopper and Dr. Khazan will present Part 2 of an Optimal HRV Webinar Series, hosted by the AAPB. 

 He will also be hosting a two-day workshop on biofeedback with her this year at the International Society of Neuroregulation and Research (ISNR) conference in Chicago. In addition to speaking at conferences and webinars, Dr. Hopper’s research has also been featured on multiple podcasts, including the Heart Variability Podcast  and the Warrior’s Edge Podcast 

Today, his HRV mobile app continues to grow in popularity all over the country and in multiple health disciplines. It’s particularly useful in psychology along with naturopathic medicine and all other forms of medicine. 

Though at first Dr. Hopper had some trepidation about his speaking engagements, he’s come to see just how important they are for spreading awareness about his research.  

“Conventions are very supportive and encouraging,” he said. “They are always very collaborative and not intimidating at all.” 

He encourages other students to get involved in research. 

 “The load is a lot as a student but it helps to have something else to focus on,” he said. “Find something you’re passionate about and dig in.”  

 

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