What is Heart Rate Variability?

Heart Rate Variability (HRV) measures the variation in time between successive heartbeats. It is calculated by measuring the interval between successive R-peaks, or the highest points of the QRS complex, in an electrocardiogram (ECG) signal.

HRV is considered a valuable indicator related to the balance of the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches of the autonomic nervous system, which control the body’s physiological responses to stress and relaxation. High HRV is associated with a healthy autonomic nervous system and greater resilience to stress, while low HRV is associated with stress, anxiety, and other health conditions.

HRV can be measured using various devices, including ECG monitors, wearable devices, and smartphone apps. It can be used in various applications, such as athletic performance monitoring, stress management, and assessing health conditions, including addiction.

In the context of addiction, HRV can be used to monitor the physiological responses of individuals in addiction recovery and to evaluate the impact of substance use on their autonomic nervous system. Low HRV can indicate that an individual is experiencing stress and anxiety, which can be contributing factors to substance use and relapse. By monitoring HRV, healthcare professionals can gain valuable insights into the physiological state of individuals in addiction recovery and use this information to inform the development of individualized treatment plans.

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