Your Crash in a Graph? How Heart Rate Variability Testing Could Help You Improve Your Health

Resource Your Crash in a Graph? How Heart Rate Variability Testing Could Help You Improve Your Health

Karmin

Active Member
Karmin submitted a new resource:

- Heart Rate Variability (HRV) - An Under-Utilized ME/CFS Management Tool

About Me

Although I have a health background (in Optometry), I have no experience whatsoever in exercise science. I'm an ordinary patient with diagnoses of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), Postural Orthostatic Intolerance (POTS), Neurally Mediated Hypotension (NMH), and autoimmune disease. Among others!

I've been bedridden for 7 years and I struggle to read much of anything, or to do significant amounts of research.

The point is: heart rate variability (HRV) tracking...
Read more about this resource...
 
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Justarose123

Active Member
I don't know if this means anything? Or is connected but when I was 28 I had worn a horlt heart monitor for 3 consecutive 24 hour days in a row..because I had taking a long walk and my heart got irratic and skipped beats..
When I went to see the doctor for my results...he told me that my heart rate dropped to around 50 beats per minute, and that I would need a pacemaker by the age of 50... It should noted I am 54 now and my fibromyalgia / Fatigue started at 45...does anyone know if this is anything to do with my HRV? Rita
 

Cort

Founder of Health Rising and Phoenix Rising
Staff member
I don't know if this means anything? Or is connected but when I was 28 I had worn a horlt heart monitor for 3 consecutive 24 hour days in a row..because I had taking a long walk and my heart got irratic and skipped beats..
When I went to see the doctor for my results...he told me that my heart rate dropped to around 50 beats per minute, and that I would need a pacemaker by the age of 50... It should noted I am 54 now and my fibromyalgia / Fatigue started at 45...does anyone know if this is anything to do with my HRV? Rita
I don't know. The ANS controls HRV but it also controls the heart rate......so maybe a dysfunction in the ANS causes both.(??)
 

Karmin

Active Member
I don't know if this means anything? Or is connected but when I was 28 I had worn a horlt heart monitor for 3 consecutive 24 hour days in a row..because I had taking a long walk and my heart got irratic and skipped beats..
When I went to see the doctor for my results...he told me that my heart rate dropped to around 50 beats per minute, and that I would need a pacemaker by the age of 50... It should noted I am 54 now and my fibromyalgia / Fatigue started at 45...does anyone know if this is anything to do with my HRV? Rita
Low heart rate can be caused by various health conditions. Knowing your heart rate or your HRV won’t help you identify the underlying condition.
However, in your day to day HRV tracking, a ‘parasympathetic spike’ can cause a big drop in heart rate, and a sudden big increase in HRV. This is something I’ll talk about in future blogs. In my experience they are quite common in ME/CFS, and usually occur when I have been trying to push through symptoms. Parasympathetic spikes are a red flag warning to stop and get rest.
 

Cort

Founder of Health Rising and Phoenix Rising
Staff member
Looking forward to learning more...
Low heart rate can be caused by various health conditions. Knowing your heart rate or your HRV won’t help you identify the underlying condition.
However, in your day to day HRV tracking, a ‘parasympathetic spike’ can cause a big drop in heart rate, and a sudden big increase in HRV. This is something I’ll talk about in future blogs. In my experience they are quite common in ME/CFS, and usually occur when I have been trying to push through symptoms. Parasympathetic spikes are a red flag warning to stop and get rest.
 

Jeshyr

Member
That's really interesting - I'm so glad it works for you!

I tracked my HRV for several months as well, but it did not correlate at *all* with how I felt or how much I did. We are all so dammed different...
 

Karmin

Active Member
That's really interesting - I'm so glad it works for you!

I tracked my HRV for several months as well, but it did not correlate at *all* with how I felt or how much I did. We are all so dammed different...
Were you using a good quality chest strap and app Jeshyr, and taking your readings first thing in the morning, before doing anything else?
 

Jeshyr

Member
Were you using a good quality chest strap and app Jeshyr, and taking your readings first thing in the morning, before doing anything else?
I wasn't using a chest strap (don't have one), but I was using HRV4Training which seems to have fairly good research showing it's as accurate as a chest strap. And I was doing readings first thing, lying flat, empty bladder, paced breathing, etc. - all very proper.
 

Karmin

Active Member
I wasn't using a chest strap (don't have one), but I was using HRV4Training which seems to have fairly good research showing it's as accurate as a chest strap. And I was doing readings first thing, lying flat, empty bladder, paced breathing, etc. - all very proper.
I started off with HRV4training but I just didn't get good results with it Jeshyr. I was really resistant to going back to a chest strap (because I currently use Mio Alpha for HR tracking throughout day), but the camera sensor just didn't give me accurate results. (Nor did the Mio). I was only wasting time and energy persisting with them. I really like all the work Marco Altini has done with HRV, but the camera sensor (though it was very easy to use) didn't work for me. I'd give it another try with a chest strap if you can access one in the future. I am often able to pick up things like chest straps second hand on eBay.
 

Obie

Member
Fascinating and so timely for me. I am the midst of my 2nd long crash this year :(. As I was analyzing all my logs for activity, HR, and any other factors that might have caused a relapse, all I came up with was a vague overdoing it for a few days. Othertimes, i can overdo and not crash. What could the X factor be?
HRV graphs sound like they may be helpful. Can you use them to catch yourself before you are in the depths of a crash? Or are they only helpful in retrospect?
I have a new fitbit charge HR. HR readings are similar to my Polar F7 which was my second, both of which died after a year. It does give a graph of minute to minute readings. Would that work for HRV apps?
 

Karmin

Active Member
Obie the FitBit definitely won’t be sufficient for HRV measurement. You’ll get poor quality data that will lead you astray. Unless you have sound data to work with, you’re not going to benefit from HRV tracking.

Regarding crashes: You’re not going to be able to prevent every crash. There are too many variables that you can’t control, that can send you spiralling downwards. However, I definitely crash less since I’ve been using HRV tracking, and often when I do crash I can say ‘Well you could see this coming, but you didn’t act soon enough’.

The other factor is that I am running a myriad of experiments on individual factors, and now have good data I can use to help me turn around bad numbers. (This is all coming in a future blog). For example: if my HF (parasympathetic) numbers are low when I take my waking measurements, I will plan my day around that. I will do up a plan adding in factors that my data has shown helps me to increase my HF (such as Mestinon). If my LF/HF is high I will add in factors that help lower it (such as Weil breathing). Working like this gives you a lot of control.
 

Remy

Administrator
I've been tracking HRV for a while now myself and find it helpful. It mostly encourages me.

I agree with @Karmin that you must use a chest strap. I use the Zephyr brand myself and highly recommend it because the customer service people are so nice when they answer the phone. It is so rare to get someone knowledgeable and helpful these days. They have sorted out my problems even when it's not their strap but the app causing the issue cheerfully.

I use SweetBeat and Elite HRV. SweetBeat also has phenomenal customer service. I discovered a little bug in their app and they patiently helped me figure it out and then sent me a whole new version that fixed the problem and answered a lot of questions I had along the way.

I only measure for 3 minutes in the morning though. The SweetBeat and Elite apps standard setting is 3 minutes and I find that to be sufficient as well.

It's positive reinforcement when I can see my numbers change after a meditation setting. And if I overdo it, it's encouraging to see the numbers come back up again too over time.
 
This is really interesting but my brain started fogging up just looking at the graphs and charts. I see there is some level of customer service with these apps but I may not be able to comprehend their instructions. Suggestions or ideas?
 

Remy

Administrator
This is really interesting but my brain started fogging up just looking at the graphs and charts. I see there is some level of customer service with these apps but I may not be able to comprehend their instructions. Suggestions or ideas?
I would start with the SweetBeat daily HRV app. It's the easiest to see trends in my opinion and doesn't get bogged down with details.
 

Karmin

Active Member
I've been tracking HRV for a while now myself and find it helpful. It mostly encourages me.

I agree with @Karmin that you must use a chest strap. I use the Zephyr brand myself and highly recommend it because the customer service people are so nice when they answer the phone. It is so rare to get someone knowledgeable and helpful these days. They have sorted out my problems even when it's not their strap but the app causing the issue cheerfully.

I use SweetBeat and Elite HRV. SweetBeat also has phenomenal customer service. I discovered a little bug in their app and they patiently helped me figure it out and then sent me a whole new version that fixed the problem and answered a lot of questions I had along the way.

I only measure for 3 minutes in the morning though. The SweetBeat and Elite apps standard setting is 3 minutes and I find that to be sufficient as well.

It's positive reinforcement when I can see my numbers change after a meditation setting. And if I overdo it, it's encouraging to see the numbers come back up again too over time.

Hi Remy,

Nice to find someone else tracking HRV :)

That's true about the the 3 min standard setting - one of the few things that annoys me about that app.
 

Karmin

Active Member
This is really interesting but my brain started fogging up just looking at the graphs and charts. I see there is some level of customer service with these apps but I may not be able to comprehend their instructions. Suggestions or ideas?
It really is pretty simple to get started Carol. Download SweetBeat and try doing a trial run, and just have a play. It does guide you through the setup pretty well. There's little more to it than linking it to your chest strap. (If you have problems you could also come on here for help).

Once you have it going, run through my blog instructions again (maybe print it out). Then just start doing morning readings when you wake. Don't worry - it will make more sense as you go along. Best of luck
 

Lissa

Well-Known Member
This HRV stuff looks very interesting to me. However when I looked into Sweetbeats, Garmin wasn't listed as an approved chest strap.

I use Garmin Vivofit for tracking steps and sleep. The wristband works great and the HRM chest strap does too, but I rarely wear the HRM part anymore. It might be worth dusting off.... But is there a HRV app that will work with Garmin?

After dropping $ on the Garmin, I can't justify buying another chest strap just to experiment. Not sure how much usefulness I'd get out of it until I've tried it.

So far I've found I can reasonably determine / predict crashy days by my step count patterns. Does this HRV stuff add anything significant to that? Beyond the obvious of waving a bunch of data points at an unsuspecting GP who may not understand it.

I only ask because early on I saw a cardio specialist and was dismissed as "fine" after wearing a holtzer monitor for 24 hours. Despite the obvious POTS. And all the crazy spikes were dismissed as "artifacts" ... whatever that means. Problems with HRV were never mentioned, so I have no clue if this is worth doing in my case.
 

Remy

Administrator
This HRV stuff looks very interesting to me. However when I looked into Sweetbeats, Garmin wasn't listed as an approved chest strap.

I use Garmin Vivofit for tracking steps and sleep. The wristband works great and the HRM chest strap does too, but I rarely wear the HRM part anymore. It might be worth dusting off.... But is there a HRV app that will work with Garmin?

After dropping $ on the Garmin, I can't justify buying another chest strap just to experiment. Not sure how much usefulness I'd get out of it until I've tried it.

So far I've found I can reasonably determine / predict crashy days by my step count patterns. Does this HRV stuff add anything significant to that? Beyond the obvious of waving a bunch of data points at an unsuspecting GP who may not understand it.

I only ask because early on I saw a cardio specialist and was dismissed as "fine" after wearing a holtzer monitor for 24 hours. Despite the obvious POTS. And all the crazy spikes were dismissed as "artifacts" ... whatever that means. Problems with HRV were never mentioned, so I have no clue if this is worth doing in my case.
For me, it's less about predicting crash days than trying to see improvement in my power levels and a reverse of the sympathetic dominance...in which case the LF/HF measurements are necessary.

From what I can see, the Garmin strap requires some sort of wireless adapter to the iPhone which is $50 bucks itself to work (possibly!) with Sweetbeat. But things change all the time so I would just email Sweetbeat and ask...
 

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