EMWAVE HEART RATE VARIABILITY BY HEARTMATH...
emWave Heart Rate Variability by HeartMath
Two reasons emWave is the most affordable and simplest to implement neurophysiology tool.
Assess Heart Rate Variability Coherence through time and show the positive effects of your care on the nervous system
Add Advanced Stress Reduction Biofeedback Technology to Your Practice
Thousands of health professionals are using the emWave technologies with clients. They have found emWave to be the simplest and most affordable neurological outcome tool and that with consistent practice, clients can learn to reduce stress, manage the emotions associated with stress, expand their coping skills, and create a greater sense of well-being.
And as a Chiropractor, if you are looking for technology to assess and monitor autonomic nervous system state then look no further than the emWave.
What is Heart Rate Variability and Coherence?
Heart Rate Variability (HRV) is the normally occurring beat-to-beat changes in heart rate. Analysis of HRV is an important tool used to assess the function and balance of the autonomic nervous system. HRV is considered a key indicator of aging, cardiac health, and overall well-being.
Coherence is logical connectedness, internal order, or harmony among the components of a system. This term can also refer to the tendency toward increased order in the informational content of a system or in the information flow between systems. In physics, two or more waveforms that are phase-locked together (so that their energy is synchronous, constructive and synergistic) are described as coherent. Recently, there has been growing scientific interest in coherence in living systems. When a system is coherent, virtually no energy is wasted, because of the internal synchronization among the parts. In organizations, increased coherence enables the emergence of new levels of creativity, cooperation, productivity, and quality at all levels.
Cardiac Coherence is a mode of cardiac function in which the heart's rhythmic and electrical output is highly ordered. HeartMath research has shown that the positive emotions such as love, care, and appreciation increase coherence in the heart’s rhythmic beating patterns. During states of cardiac coherence, brain wave patterns have been shown to entrain with heart rate variability patterns; in addition, nervous system balance and immune function are enhanced. Overall, the body functions with increased harmony and efficiency – the result – improved wellbeing.
As a person’s nervous system becomes more subluxated and stressed the result is pressure, strain, or a sense of inner turmoil resulting from altered perception and reactions to events or conditions. This leads to interference and disconnection within the body’s systems leading to reduced coherence and increased disorder and dys-function.
Research has demonstrated improvements in heart rate variability coherence from chiropractic care making the emWave an ideal clinical tool for the Chiropractor wanting to demonstrate and assess improvements in the nervous system.
As an added bonus regular use of the emWave biofeedback technology has resulted in significant stress reduction benefits for people with ADD/ADHD, anger, anxiety and panic disorders, arrhythmias, asthma, chronic fatigue, chronic pain, depression, diabetes, digestive disorders, hypertension and sleep disorders.
Chiropractors can offer this cutting-edge technology as a simple and even profitable addition to their services.
Using emWave with Your Clients
Objectively assess and demonstrate heart rate variability coherence and autonomic nervous system state
Control heart rhythm to achieve the optimal performance zone (outside of the stress zone)
Develop real-time stress solutions
Promote emotional self-regulation
Encourage a positive outlook
High compliance rate
Combines well with other therapies
As a health professional, you can help your clients take an active role in preventing stress, managing the emotions associated with stress and creating better health.
The emWave Desktop is simple, effective, easy-to-use and affordable. Clients like to use the biofeedback component and they feel good to use, both for the client and the practitioner: Help your clients make life-style changes and healthy choices.
What health professionals are saying about emWave:
“Many, if not most, of my patients have physical complaints that stem ultimately from stress. What I find most helpful are the HeartMath's techniques and technologies including the emWave. It provides patients with a way to have more control over their own health and has often been more helpful in lessening the harmful effects of stress than anything else I've tried. In addition, it's fun and free from side effects! HeartMath is an invaluable part of my practice.” Wendy Warner, MD, Founder and Medical Director of Medicine in Balance, LLC, Past President of the American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine
“When I opened my new practice in 2008, I was searching the world for neurologically based, scientifically supported and yet affordable outcome tools. HeartMath’s emWave fulfils all these criteria and has surpassed my expectations in terms of its ability to demonstrate to a person the state of their autonomic nervous system, show benefits to their nervous system from chiropractic care, and also offer an easy to implement biofeedback tool for people showing significant HRV incoherence – a crippling causative factor for Subluxation pathogenesis. Why spend thousands for this type of technology when you can get it for hundreds?” Nick Hodgson, Victorian Chiropractor of the Year 2005, Australasian Provider of Torque Release Technique Training
emWave Desktop is a scientifically validated hardware/software system that offers a patented process which displays heart rhythm patterns in real time showing whether your patients are in a high performance state, or demonstrating stress physiology. The system can also be used to teach techniques to help create an optimal state in which the heart, mind and emotions are operating in-sync and balanced.
We call this coherence.
You can use the emWave as an assessment and outcome tool to monitor change occurring with your care plan and you can utilise the emWave as a value adding service by implementing the biofeedback features of the system.
emWave Desktop helps people achieve coherence and alignment through simple-to-learn exercises and feedback. Using a pulse sensor plugged into a computer’s USB port, emWave Desktop collects pulse data and translates coherence information into user-friendly graphics displayed on the computer screen. Through coherence techniques, interactive exercises and game play, emWave Desktop helps bring the heart and mind into a coherent state, building resilience, increasing energy, and promoting focus, mental clarity and emotional balance.
About the biofeedback features
Use emWave Desktop during office visits with clients. Clients can see their heart rhythm patterns in real time on the computer screen and see the changes in their heart rhythm patterns when they apply the Quick Coherence technique.
The emWave Desktop has been designed to help people prevent, manage and reverse the effects of too much stress.
By correlating the patterns on the screen with a calm internal feeling, clients can learn to find and maintain physiological coherence. They learn self-control of emotions, which helps reduce the physiological and psychological symptoms of stress. The goal is to increase the amount of coherence they are able to sustain in each session and to keep track of their progress.
The Tools for Success
Real-Time Heart Rate Variability Monitor
Works on either Mac or PC system
Now available for iPod, iPhone and iPad
USB module with pulse sensor that attaches to ear
Four biofeedback challenge levels to help raise baseline coherence levels
Data storage showing coherence levels for session and history review
Multiple views to watch heart rhythms change as move into a state of higher performance
Coherence Coach tutorial for learning and applying the Quick Coherence technique
Interactive Games that help transform stress into creative energy
Emotion Visualizer provides stunning colourful images which vary according to emotional state and coherence level
Online and Personal Customer Care:
Free weekly training calls for the beginner and advanced user
Lifetime customer support
Free webinars on stress, anxiety, personal well-being and empowerment
One year limited warranty
Software CD for Mac and PC
USB module and pulse sensor
Now also available as App and sensor for iPhone; iPad, and Mini; iPod Touch
Microsoft Windows XP SP3 or newer Operating System, 1.0 GHz or faster processor – recommend Intel Core2 Duo at 2.0GHz or faster, 1 GB RAM – recommended 2GB or more, One available USB Port, Internet Access Recommended
Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) or later, 1.0 GHz or faster G4, G5 or Intel processor – recommend Intel Core 2 Duo at 2.0GHz or faster, One available USB Port, Internet Access Recommended, (If you are using a Mac PowerPC, emWave Games and Tutorials are not supported).
iPod, iPhone, iPad:
Download App from Itunes. iPhone 3GS, 4, 4S, 5*; iPad 1, 2, 3, 4*, and Mini*; iPod Touch 3, 4, and 5*(* indicates the latest generation iOS devices that require the Apple Lightning to 30-Pin Adapter.)
Inner Balance App and Sensor now available for iPod, iPhone, iPad:
See the Inner Balance App in Action...
emWave Desktop (PC, Mac) = $250
Inner Balance (iPod, iPhone, iPad HRV Hardware/App) = $143
Price includes GST and postage...
The Science Behind the emWave Technologies
The emWave technologies and the tools and techniques of the HeartMath system are based on over 17 years of scientific research on the psychophysiology of stress, emotions, and the interactions between the heart and brain.
The Heart – Brain Connection
Most of us have been taught in school that the heart is constantly responding to “orders” sent by the brain in the form of neural signals. However, it is not as commonly known that the heart actually sends more signals to the brain than the brain sends to the heart! Moreover, these heart signals have a significant effect on brain function – influencing emotional processing as well as higher cognitive faculties such as attention, perception, memory, and problem-solving. In other words, not only does the heart respond to the brain, but the brain continuously responds to the heart.
This finding fits beautifully with chiropractic principles such as the safety pin cycle where the information from body cell to brain cell and back again is an ever-changing interactive biofeedback loop.
The effect of heart activity on brain function has been researched extensively over about the past 40 years. Earlier research mainly examined the effects of heart activity occurring on a very short time scale – over several consecutive heartbeats at maximum. Scientists at the Institute of HeartMath have extended this body of scientific research by looking at how larger-scale patterns of heart activity affect the brain’s functioning.
HeartMath research has demonstrated that different patterns of heart activity (which accompany different emotional states) have distinct effects on cognitive and emotional function. Chiropractors are aware of the three causes of Subluxation – physical, chemical and emotional – emotional being the most prevalent and insidious. During stress and negative emotions, when the heart rhythm pattern is erratic and disordered, the corresponding pattern of neural signals travelling from the heart to the brain inhibits higher cognitive functions. This limits our ability to think clearly, remember, learn, reason, and make effective decisions. (This helps explain why we may often act impulsively and unwisely when we’re under stress.) The heart’s input to the brain during stressful or negative emotions also has a profound effect on the brain’s emotional processes – actually serving to reinforce the emotional experience of stress.
In contrast, the more ordered and stable pattern of the heart’s input to the brain during positive emotional states has the opposite effect – it facilitates cognitive function and reinforces positive feelings and emotional stability. This means that learning to generate increased heart rhythm coherence, by sustaining positive emotions, not only benefits the entire body, but also profoundly affects how we perceive, think, feel, and perform.
And this understanding also reinforces the need for effective communication within the nervous system – cardiac relationship, and hence for the minimisation and reduction of Subluxations and their neurological interference.
Your Heart’s Changing Rhythm
The heart at rest was once thought to operate much like a metronome, faithfully beating out a regular, steady rhythm. Scientists and physicians now know, however, that this is far from the case. Rather than being monotonously regular, the rhythm of a healthy heart-even under resting conditions – is actually surprisingly irregular, with the time interval between consecutive heartbeats constantly changing. This naturally occurring beat-to-beat variation in heart rate is called heart rate variability (HRV).
Heart rate variability is a measure of
the beat-to-beat changes in heart rate.
This diagram shows three heartbeats
recorded on an electrocardiogram (ECG).
Note that variation in the time interval
between consecutive heartbeats, giving a
different heart rate (in beats per
minute) for each inter-beat interval.
The moment-to-moment variations in heart rate are generally overlooked when average heart rate is measured (for example, when your doctor takes your pulse over a certain period of time and calculates that your heart is beating at, say, 70 beats per minute). However, the emWave technologies allow you to observe your heart’s changing rhythms in real time. Using your pulse data, it provides a picture of your HRV – plotting the natural increases and decreases in your heart rate occurring on a continual basis.
Why is HRV Important?
Scientists and physicians consider HRV to be an important indicator of health and fitness. As a marker of physiological resilience and behavioural flexibility, it reflects our ability to adapt effectively to stress and environmental demands. A simple analogy helps to illustrate this point: Just as the shifting stance of a tennis player about to receive a serve may facilitate swift adaptation, in healthy individuals the heart remains similarly responsive and resilient, primed and ready to react when needed.
HRV is also a marker of biological aging. Our heart rate variability is greatest when we are young, and as we age the range of variation in our resting heart rate becomes smaller. Although the age-related decline in HRV is a natural process, having abnormally low HRV for one’s age group is associated with increased risk of future health problems and premature mortality. Low HRV is also observed in individuals with a wide range of diseases and disorders. By reducing stress-induced wear and tear on the nervous system and facilitating the body’s natural regenerative processes, regular practice of HeartMath coherence-building techniques and chiropractic care can help restore low HRV to healthy values.
Heart Rhythm Patterns and Emotions
Many factors affect the activity of the ANS, and therefore influence HRV. These include our breathing patterns, physical exercise, neurological state and even our thoughts. Research at the Institute of HeartMath has shown that one of the most powerful factors that affect our heart’s changing rhythm is our feelings and emotions. When our varying heart rate is plotted over time, the overall shape of the waveform produced is called the heart rhythm pattern. When you use the emWave technologies, you are seeing your heart rhythm pattern in real time. HeartMath research has found that the emotions we experience directly affect our heart rhythm pattern – and this, in turn, tells us much about how our body is functioning.
In general, emotional stress – including emotions such as anger, frustration, and anxiety – gives rise to heart rhythm patterns that appear irregular and erratic: The HRV waveform looks like a series of uneven, jagged peaks (an example is shown in the figure below). Scientists call this an incoherent heart rhythm pattern. Physiologically, this pattern indicates that the signals produced by the two branches of the ANS are out of sync with each other. This can be likened to driving a car with one foot on the gas pedal (the sympathetic nervous system) and the other on the brake (the parasympathetic nervous system) at the same time – this creates a jerky ride, burns more gas, and isn’t great for your car either! Likewise, the incoherent patterns of physiological activity associated with stressful emotions can cause our body to operate inefficiently, deplete our energy, and produce extra wear and tear on our whole system. This is especially true if stress and negative emotions are prolonged or experienced often.
In contrast, positive emotions send a very different signal throughout our body. When we experience uplifting emotions such as appreciation, joy, care, and love; our heart rhythm pattern becomes highly ordered, looking like a smooth, harmonious wave (an example is shown in the figure below). This is called a coherent heart rhythm pattern. When we are generating a coherent heart rhythm, the activity in the two branches of the ANS is synchronized and the body’s systems operate with increased efficiency and harmony. It’s no wonder that positive emotions feel so good – they actually help our body’s systems synchronize and work better.
Heart rhythm patterns during different emotional states.
The above graphs show examples of real-time heart rate variability patterns (heart rhythms) recorded from individuals experiencing different emotions. The incoherent heart rhythm pattern shown in the top graph, characterized by its irregular, jagged waveform, is typical of stress and negative emotions such as anger, frustration, and anxiety. The bottom graph shows an example of the coherent heart rhythm pattern that is typically observed when an individual is experiencing a sustained positive emotion, such as appreciation, compassion, or love. The coherent pattern is characterized by its regular, sine-wave-like waveform. It is interesting to note that the overall amount of heart rate variability is actually the same in the two recordings shown above; however, the patterns of the HRV waveforms are clearly different.
Coherence: A State of Optimal Function
The Institute of HeartMath’s research has shown that generating sustained positive emotions facilitates a body-wide shift to a specific, scientifically measurable state. This state is termed psycho-physiological coherence, because it is characterized by increased order and harmony in both our psychological (mental and emotional) and physiological (bodily) processes. DD Palmer called this autosuggestion, one of the three causes of subluxation. Psycho-physiological coherence is state of optimal function. Research shows that when we activate this state, our physiological systems function more efficiently, we experience greater emotional stability, and we also have increased mental clarity and improved cognitive function.
Simply stated, our body and brain work better, we feel better, and we perform better.
Physiologically, the coherence state is marked by the development of a smooth, sine-wave-like pattern in the heart rate variability trace. This characteristic pattern, called heart rhythm coherence, is the primary indicator of the psycho-physiological coherence state, and is what the emWave technologies measure and quantify. A number of important physiological changes occur during coherence. The two branches of the ANS synchronize with one another, and there is an overall shift in autonomic balance toward increased parasympathetic activity. There is also increased physiological entrainment – a number of different bodily systems synchronize to the rhythm generated by the heart (see figure below). Finally, there is increased synchronization between the activity of the heart and brain.
Physiological entrainment during coherence.
The top graphs show an individual’s heart rate variability, blood pressure rhythm (pulse transit time), and respiration rhythm over a 10-minute period. At the 300-second mark (central dashed line), the individual used HeartMath’s Quick Coherence technique to activate a feeling of appreciation and shift into the coherence state. At this point, the rhythms of all three systems came into entrainment: notice that the rhythmic patterns are harmonious and synchronized with one another instead of scattered and out-of-sync. The bottom graphs show the frequency spectra of the same data. The left side of the graphs shows the spectral analysis of the three physiological rhythms before the shift to coherence. Notice how each pattern looks quite different from the others. The graphs on the right show that in the coherence state the rhythms of all three systems have entrained to oscillate at the same frequency.
Coherence Is Not Relaxation
An important point is that the state of coherence is both psychologically and physiologically distinct from the state achieved through most techniques for relaxation. At the physiological level, relaxation is characterized by an overall reduction in autonomic outflow (resulting in lower HRV) and a shift in ANS balance towards increased parasympathetic activity. Coherence is also associated with a relative increase in parasympathetic activity, thus encompassing a key element of the relaxation response, but is physiologically distinct from relaxation in that the system oscillates at its natural resonant frequency and there is increased harmony and synchronization in nervous system and heart-brain dynamics. This important difference between the two states is reflected most clearly in their respective HRV power spectra (see figure and explanation below). Furthermore, unlike relaxation, the coherence state does not necessarily involve a lowering of heart rate, or a change in the amount of HRV, but rather is primarily marked by a change in the heart rhythm pattern.
Heart rhythm patterns during relaxation and coherence.
The two graphs on the left show typical heart rate variability (heart rhythm) patterns during states of relaxation and coherence. To the right are shown the HRV power spectral density plots of the heart rhythm patterns at left. Relaxation produces a high-frequency, low-amplitude heart rhythm, indicating reduced autonomic outflow. Increased power in the high frequency band of the HRV power spectrum is observed, reflecting increased parasympathetic activity (the “relaxation response”). In contrast, the coherence state, activated by sustained positive emotions, is associated with a highly ordered, smooth, sine-wave-like heart rhythm pattern.
Unlike relaxation, coherence does not necessarily involve a reduction in HRV, and may at times even produce an increase in HRV relative to a baseline state. As can be seen in the corresponding power spectrum, coherence is marked by an unusually large, narrow peak in the low frequency band, centred around 0.1 hertz (note the significant power scale difference between the spectra for coherence and relaxation). This large, characteristic spectral peak is indicative of the system-wide resonance and synchronization that occurs during the coherence state.
Sportspeople know is as “The Zone” – the physiological and mental place where you break world records and make it look easy!
Not only are there fundamental physiological differences between relaxation and coherence, but the psychological characteristics of these states are also quite different. Relaxation is a low-energy state in which the individual rests both the body and mind, typically disengaging from cognitive and emotional processes. In contrast, coherence generally involves the active engagement of positive emotions. Psychologically, coherence is experienced as a calm, balanced, yet energized and responsive state that is conducive to everyday functioning and interaction, including the performance of tasks requiring mental acuity, focus, problem-solving, and decision-making, as well as physical activity and coordination.
The Role of Breathing
Another important distinction involves understanding the role of breathing in the generation of coherence and its relationship to the techniques of the HeartMath System. Because breathing patterns modulate the heart’s rhythm, it is possible to generate a coherent heart rhythm simply by breathing slowly and regularly at a 10-second rhythm (5 seconds on the in-breath and 5 seconds on the out-breath). Breathing rhythmically in this fashion can thus be a useful intervention to initiate a shift out of stressful emotional state and into increased coherence. However, this type of cognitively-directed paced breathing can require considerable mental effort and is difficult for some people to maintain.
While HeartMath techniques incorporate a breathing element, paced breathing is not their primary focus and they should therefore not be thought of simply as breathing exercises. The main difference between the HeartMath tools and most commonly practiced breathing techniques is the HeartMath tools’ focus on the intentional generation of a heartfelt positive emotional state. This emotional shift is a key element of the techniques’ effectiveness. Positive emotions appear to excite the system at its natural resonant frequency and thus enable coherence to emerge and to be maintained naturally, without conscious mental focus on one’s breathing rhythm.
This is because input generated by the heart’s rhythmic activity is actually one of the main factors that affect our breathing rate and patterns. When the heart’s rhythm shifts into coherence as a result of a positive emotional shift, our breathing rhythm automatically synchronizes with the heart, thereby reinforcing and stabilizing the shift to system-wide coherence.
Additionally, the positive emotional focus of the HeartMath techniques confers a much wider array of benefits than those typically achieved through breathing alone. These include deeper perceptual and emotional changes, increased access to intuition and creativity, cognitive and performance improvements, and favourable changes in hormonal balance.
To derive the full benefits of the HeartMath tools, it is therefore important to learn how to self-activate and eventually sustain a positive emotion. However, for users who initially have trouble achieving or maintaining coherence, practicing heart-focused breathing at a 10-second rhythm, as described above, can be useful training aid. Once individuals grow accustomed to generating coherence through rhythmic breathing and become familiar with how this state feels, they can then begin to practice breathing a positive feeling or attitude through the heart area in order to enhance their experience of the HeartMath tools and their benefits. Eventually, with continuity of practice, most people become able to shift into coherence by directly activating a positive emotion.
The Intelligent Heart
Many of the changes in bodily function that occur during the coherence state revolve around changes in the heart’s pattern of activity. While the heart is certainly a remarkable pump, interestingly, it is only relatively recently in the course of human history – around the past three centuries or so – that the heart’s function has been defined (by Western scientific thought) as only that of pumping blood. Historically, in almost every culture of the world, the heart was ascribed a far more multifaceted role in the human system, being regarded as a source of wisdom, spiritual insight, thought, and emotion. Intriguingly, scientific research over the past several decades has begun to provide evidence that many of these long-surviving associations may be much more than metaphorical. These developments have led science to once again to revise and expand its understanding of the heart and the role of this amazing organ.
In the new field of neuro-cardiology, for example, scientists have discovered that the heart possesses its own intrinsic nervous system – a network of nerves so functionally sophisticated as to earn the description of a “heart brain.” Containing over 40,000 neurons, this “little brain” gives the heart the ability to independently sense, process information, make decisions, and even to demonstrate a type of learning and memory. In essence, it appears that the heart is truly an intelligent system. Research has also revealed that the heart is a hormonal gland, manufacturing and secreting numerous hormones and neurotransmitters that profoundly affect brain and body function. Among the hormones the heart produces is oxytocins – well known as the “love” or “bonding hormone.” Science has only begun to understand the effects of the electromagnetic fields produced by the heart, but there is evidence that the information contained in the heart’s powerful field may play a vital synchronizing role in the human body – and that it may affect others around us as well.
Research has also shown that the heart is a key component of the emotional system. Scientists now understand that the heart not only responds to emotion, but that the signals generated by its rhythmic activity actually play a major part in determining the quality of our emotional experience from moment to moment. As described next, these heart signals also profoundly impact perception and cognitive function by virtue of the heart’s extensive communication network with the brain. Finally, rigorous electrophysiological studies conducted at the Institute of HeartMath have even indicated that the heart appears to play a key role in intuition. Although there is much yet to be understood, it appears that the age-old associations of the heart with thought, feeling, and insight may indeed have a basis in science.
emWave Desktop (PC, Mac) = $250
Inner Balance (iPod, iPhone, iPad HRV Hardware/App) = $143
Price includes GST and postage...
Adapted from and Copyrighted to HeartMath LLC 2011. All Rights Reserved.
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© Dr Nick Hodgson 2011
2005 Victorian Chiropractor of The Year, Australasian TRT Training Provider, Fellow Holder Research Institute.
Visit Nick's other web site at www.superhealthy.com.au