A study published in the November 16, 2017, issue of the Annals of Vertebral Subluxation Research showed how heart rate variability was improved with chiropractic care for patients enrolled in a study. Heart Rate Variability (HRV), is variation in the time between each heart beat. During the day, the HRV should change as your activity and mood change.
The study authors note that, “Unlike heart rate, having a higher HRV is a sign of healthy cardiac function.” They stress how important a healthy heart is by reporting, “According to the American Heart Association, 31.9% of deaths, about 1 of every 3 in the United States is due to coronary vascular disease, which makes it the leading cause of death and a major cause of morbidity worldwide.” According to this study, more than 2,150 Americans die every day due to some form of cardiovascular disease. This averages to about one death every 40 seconds.
Since having a high HRV is good, the purpose of this study was to see if chiropractic care could improve the HRV score on a group of patients. The heart rate is controlled in part by the autonomic nervous system. Anything that changes the HRV is a reflection on the function of the autonomic nervous system. The premise of chiropractic is correction of subluxations that cause interference with the function of the nervous system. Correction of subluxations allows the nervous system to function free of inference and should therefore have a positive affect on HRV scores on patients.
In this study, 62 sequential chiropractic patients were studied. The patients had a variety of health concerns that brought them to the chiropractor. In addition to a chiropractic examination and x-rays, a HRV study was performed on each patient initially before starting chiropractic care. Follow-up HRV studies were performed at 90 days after chiropractic care was started, then again at 6 months and after one year of chiropractic care. Of the 62 patient initially enrolled 46 of them had completed enough care to get a 90 day follow up HRV test for the purposes of this study. The initial and 90 day scores were analyzed for this study.
After the data was collected, a score was given to determine HRV activity for comparison. The data was broken down as follows: a score of 95-100 is considered excellent, 90-94 is very good, 80-89 good, 70-79 transition, 60-69 challenged, 0-59 very challenged.
In this study, the pre-chiropractic HRV score was 70.48. This number increased to 73.87on the 90 day test. On average women had a higher HRV score before chiropractic care then did the men. After 90 days of specific chiropractic care, the scores for both men and women showed an increase with the men showing a larger increase than the woman. When the researchers looked at those subjects who started with a less healthy lower HRV score, they saw a significant improvement from the initial scores to the 90 day scores for these patients.
The researchers point out that improving the HRV scores on all individuals is a positive health outcome. However, improving these scores on those who scores were initially low could have a profound effect on the patient’s health, and society overall. They concluded, “Cardiovascular disease is a significant contributor of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Males make up the majority of those deaths. Recent research shows that HRV is an accurate tool in analyzing and monitoring cardiovascular health and autonomic nervous system function. This study demonstrates that (chiropractic) care may be an effective method for people to improve their autonomic nervous system function through adjustment of vertebral subluxation, reorganizing spinal tension patterns and decreasing physiological stress.”