Heart rate variability (HRV) is a parameter, which can easily be determined by ECG or puls wave. HRV gives a clear statement about the condition of the autonomic nervous system (ANS). The ANS is the part of our nervous system that can not be influenced deliberately. It is responsible for the smooth activity of many inner processes of the body, such as regulation of blood pressure, heart rate, body temperature, digestion and metabolism.
The HRV-measurement in the Stress Pilot is a standard testing procedure in the field of autonomic function testing - called deep breathing test or respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA). The test takes exactly one minute and the breathing rhythm is set to 6 per minute. Using this specific breathing rate, a person's regulation capacity is most challenged and can be assessed in comparison to international reference values. Main focus of the measurement is not clinical diagnostic, but informative self-evaluation about an essential physiological parameter.
With the HRV-measurement the balance of the two main parts of the ANS, the sympathetic and parasympathetic branch, is assassed. A healthy organism is capable of using both branches: the inner gas pedal (sympathetic nervous system) and the inner brake (para- sympathetic nervous system) shown by the increasing and decreasing heart rate dependent on the breathing rhythm.
The reference values
Reference values exist for the RSA, and these values are age-dependent. In general, such a measurement can not substitute a consultation or a professional examination of your state of health. In case of doubt you should always ask your physician or have a health check done.
A restricted regulation of the heart rate can indicate illness, a regular intake of medication, stress, or an unhealthy lifestyle and should be discussed with your physician. In any case the regulation capacity should be improved, for example with the HRV-biofeedback-practice, to benefit from the so called cardioprotective effect.