A remarkable organ that, when studied, offers so much more insight and power than a simple organ.
Our heart is our truest sense of who we are. Many would argue that it is the Brain/mind but when you take the time to study the brain, mind and the heart you quickly come to understand the power and influence that the heart has in the body.
Did you know that the heart has Neurons in it!? Yes, the things that fire cognitive action within the brain also exist in the heart. And those neurons are firing cognition to the brain that will dictate what the brain then tells the body to do. You know those emotional outbursts that you see or hear about? The ones where it seems that the person is acting our of pure emotion with little to know thought of the consequences of that action? Ya, that’s the powerful direction of the heart over the body. Your truest essence lives in the neurons of the heart – not the brain. When you hear someone talking about the sub-conscious – that has much to do with the heart. When you are able to allow your heart to trigger action in your body you are able to act out of purity rather than intellect and analysis.
I have been that person most of my life who operates out of analysis and rational thought. Turns out I wasn’t living a very authentic life because I was suppressing my emotional desires which more fully represent who I am at a given time. I’m not saying it is all bad to operate out of rational and analytical thought, but what I do know for certain is that when you suppress your emotional responses for years you eventually get to the point where you no longer feel whole – you no longer feel like “YOU.” And it is a difficult feeling to navigate. You feel removed from the world as if you are playing a game rather than living a life.
So what about the science…
Turns out that if you neglect to continue to learn and grow and experience change in your life you are actually setting yourself up for a shortened and unrewarding life.
HRV – Heart Rate Variability
is the physiological phenomenon of variation in the time interval between heartbeats. It is measured by the variation in the beat-to-beat interval.
Basically, HRV tells us how much of a time gap occurs between beats of our heart and how infrequent that beat occurs.
But here is the amazing part. The higher your HRV the more “resilience” you have in your body. Meaning – If you have higher HRV you are better equipped to manage the uncertainty of life which is inevitable in human existence.
If you have lower HRV you are more susceptible to:
Depressed HRV after MI may reflect a decrease in vagal activity directed to the heart. HRV in patients surviving an acute MI reveal a reduction in total and in the individual power of spectral components. The presence of an alteration in neural control is also reflected in a blunting of day-night variations of RR interval. In post-MI patients with a very depressed HRV, most of the residual energy is distributed in the VLF frequency range below 0.03 Hz, with only a small respiration-related variations.
In neuropathy associated with diabetes mellitus characterized by alteration in small nerve fibers, a reduction in time domain parameters of HRV seems not only to carry negative prognostic value but also to precede the clinical expression of autonomic neuropathy. In diabetic patients without evidence of autonomic neuropathy, reduction of the absolute power of LF and HF during controlled conditions was also reported. Similarly, diabetic patients can be differentiated from normal controls on the basis of reduction in HRV.
A very reduced HRV with no definite spectral components has been reported in patients with a recent heart transplant. The appearance of discrete spectral components in a few patients is considered to reflect cardiac reinnervation. This reinnervation may occur as early as 1 to 2 years after transplantation and is assumed to be of sympathetic origin. In addition, a correlation between respiratory rate and the HF component of HRV observed in some transplanted patients also indicates that a nonneural mechanism may generate a respiration-related rhythmic oscillation.
A reduced HRV has been observed consistently in patients with cardiac failure. In this condition characterized by signs of sympathetic activation such as faster heart rates and high levels of circulating catecholamines, a relation between changes in HRV and the extent of left ventricular dysfunction was reported. In fact, whereas the reduction in time domain measures of HRV seemed to parallel the severity of the disease, the relationship between spectral components and indices of ventricular dysfunction appears to be more complex. In particular, in most patients with a very advanced phase of the disease and with a drastic reduction in HRV, an LF component could not be detected despite the clinical signs of sympathetic activation. This reflects that, as stated above, the LF may not accurately reflect cardiac sympathetic tone.
Liver cirrhosis is associated with decreased HRV. Decreased HRV in patients with cirrhosis has a prognostic value and predicts mortality. Loss of HRV is also associated with higher plasma pro-inflammatory cytokine levels and impaired neurocognitive function in this patient population.
HRV is decreased in patients with sepsis. Loss of HRV has both diagnostic and prognostic value in neonates with sepsis. The pathophysiology of decreased HRV in sepsis is not well understood but there is experimental evidence to show that partial uncoupling of cardiac pacemaker cells from autonomic neural control may play a role in decreased HRV during acute systemic inflammation.
Patients with chronic complete high cervical spinal cord lesions have intact efferent vagal neural pathways directed to the sinus node. However, an LF component can be detected in HRV and arterial pressure variabilities of some tetraplegic patients. Thus, the LF component of HRV in those without intact sympathetic inputs to the heart represent vagal modulation.
Sudden cardiac death
Patients victim of sudden cardiac death have been found to have lower HRV than healthy individuals.
HRV correlates with the progression of disease and outcome of cancer patients, according to a systematic review of published studies.
This leads me now towards the reality that we all must make a commitment to personal growth and development if we are to live a long and healthy life in this world. Our bodies demand it because our heart requires it.
When we are babies we have very high HRV because we have much to learn and in a very short period of time. But as we begin to learn of all the dangers that exist around us we slowly begin to find ways to shelter ourselves from those dangers and over time – post public education – many of us stop learning and growing all together.
We graduate from grade 12 and maybe we go off to post-secondary school, but many of us do not. Rather, we spend a few years in the workforce learning a few new skills along the way in search of a safe, normal and predictable career. We are seeking comfort and predictability because that’s easier – isn’t it?
Yes, it is certainly easier to get really good at something and just ride off into the sunset but we can look at the “ideal” of north american retirement and see, that for many, it is a death sentence rather than an enjoyable rest and relaxation. Many people quit their career work in their sixties and stop growing in any way, shape or form. They simply STOP. Thinking that since they worked so hard for 45 years it is time they earned their rest. And then in a matter of 5 or less years they passed away – Why? Because their heart was ill-prepared for change. Their 45 years of habitual living with no personal growth took away all HRV that their heart might have had and when it came time to “switch gears” their heart couldn’t handle it.
So, recognising that your heart is the master cylinder in your body and directs your mind and actions what will you begin to pursue – TODAY – that will increase your HRV so that you might live a long and healthy life of fulfilment rather than a life full of expectation of rest?
You are created to be growing, learning, changing and creating. Don’t set yourself up for early departure just because it was EASIER! Do the hard thing and pursue fulfilment.
You don’t have to know what you want to pursue – you just need to make a personal commitment to GROW. Without that commitment you will always choose the easier way out.
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