Heart Rate Variability Conundrum

Jyoti

Moderator
Messages
3,112
Likes
8,609
I was very interested in some of the information other members were using to manage their lives and illness via monitoring HRV. Because I don't have a ton of money, I thought I would start with the free phone-camera-measuring app Welltory, see what I could learn. Measuring for a couple of months I definitely saw a relationship emerge between when I was feeling reasonably well and when I was not. The numbers were higher when I felt better, lower when I was crashed.

The curious thing, though, was that my numbers were REALLY high most of the time. Different apps use different measures and some have their own composites, of which Welltory is one. So high, in fact, that I mistrusted the readings. Other PR members were discussing ranges from 12-60 ms while I was getting numbers above 100 with great frequency. Yes, when I was feeling better, but we are still talking about a 'better' that includes a maximum of 4 or 5 hours upright and incredible fatigue and other symptoms. Not the 'better' of an elite athlete.

So I finally got an Oura ring and I was very interested to see if my phone had been mis-measuring all along. No. I know I need to use it for more than a week to get useful data, but so far, my HRV numbers (which Oura measures overnight) have ranged mostly from from 160-240. And I have been less well than usual---a low moderate. My heart rate, on the other hand is quite low at night, averaging about 45 bpm.

Welltory is a snapshot, so anything could affect it, though I think trends are accessible through it. Oura, on the other hand, monitors all night long so it is a broader picture.

From what I understand, these readings I have gotten would indicate a very high level of parasympathetic dominance, but I feel wired/tired all the time. I can't sleep without tons of help. I have elevated levels of epinephrine supine and upright.

I also have ME/CFS, POTS, Neurally Mediated Syncope and SFN.

As an experiment, I tried a handful of days with absolutely no activity. No movement beyond the absolutely necessary. In general, I try to walk some everyday but I put that on hold. My HRV came down to 100 and my heart rate up to 48.

The only explanation that makes any sense to me so far is that it is constant over-reach. I found one article that suggested that overtraining if taken way too far can create higher HRV and lower heart rate until recovery is achieved. But there seems to be dearth of information about this.

Any thoughts, clues, stories, similarities or other experiences most welcome.
 
Messages
43
Likes
81
Location
Lancashire, UK
I was very interested in some of the information other members were using to manage their lives and illness via monitoring HRV. Because I don't have a ton of money, I thought I would start with the free phone-camera-measuring app Welltory, see what I could learn. Measuring for a couple of months I definitely saw a relationship emerge between when I was feeling reasonably well and when I was not. The numbers were higher when I felt better, lower when I was crashed.

The curious thing, though, was that my numbers were REALLY high most of the time. Different apps use different measures and some have their own composites, of which Welltory is one. So high, in fact, that I mistrusted the readings. Other PR members were discussing ranges from 12-60 ms while I was getting numbers above 100 with great frequency. Yes, when I was feeling better, but we are still talking about a 'better' that includes a maximum of 4 or 5 hours upright and incredible fatigue and other symptoms. Not the 'better' of an elite athlete.

So I finally got an Oura ring and I was very interested to see if my phone had been mis-measuring all along. No. I know I need to use it for more than a week to get useful data, but so far, my HRV numbers (which Oura measures overnight) have ranged mostly from from 160-240. And I have been less well than usual---a low moderate. My heart rate, on the other hand is quite low at night, averaging about 45 bpm.

Welltory is a snapshot, so anything could affect it, though I think trends are accessible through it. Oura, on the other hand, monitors all night long so it is a broader picture.

From what I understand, these readings I have gotten would indicate a very high level of parasympathetic dominance, but I feel wired/tired all the time. I can't sleep without tons of help. I have elevated levels of epinephrine supine and upright.

I also have ME/CFS, POTS, Neurally Mediated Syncope and SFN.

As an experiment, I tried a handful of days with absolutely no activity. No movement beyond the absolutely necessary. In general, I try to walk some everyday but I put that on hold. My HRV came down to 100 and my heart rate up to 48.

The only explanation that makes any sense to me so far is that it is constant over-reach. I found one article that suggested that overtraining if taken way too far can create higher HRV and lower heart rate until recovery is achieved. But there seems to be dearth of information about this.

Any thoughts, clues, stories, similarities or other experiences most welcome.
I can only imagine that there is some sort of measurement error. I've never heard of a HRV reading of 160, never mind 240. The usual range is 40–80, so your readings are significantly above that.

Comparing between devices is tricky, for obvious reasons.

The most accurate device (with reasonable cost etc.) would be a chest strap, such as the PolarH10. I do like the Oura rings, and the HRV is said to be reasonably accurate, but perhaps you could go for a chest strap to confirm your readings?
 

Jyoti

Moderator
Messages
3,112
Likes
8,609
I can only imagine that there is some sort of measurement error. I've never heard of a HRV reading of 160, never mind 240. The usual range is 40–80, so your readings are significantly above that.
Thanks for wrapping your head around this. I thought the Welltory measurements had to be wrong, but was stunned to find them significantly lower than OURA. It seems to me that OURA is pretty reliable.
Alternatively, if the measurements are accurate, it might suggest some sort of physiological issue that means you are way outside the normal range.
Of course this is what I am wondering..... But I have had a thorough cardiac work-up as well as a recent meeting with a cardiac dysautonomia specialist and was assured twice that my heart is organically fine. No arrhythmias or structural issues.

So it is baffling. Maybe I will try a chest strap, but my guess is it will give me some high readings.
 

Learner1

Senior Member
Messages
5,909
Likes
10,730
Location
Pacific Northwest
It is! I have it too... But it's never as good as a Polar strap because the ring or your hand move at night
My Oura doesn't move much at night.

Also, my HRV runs pretty low (15-35 most of the time anf occasionally up to 70, but average is 24, It gets pushed down by my beta blocker and Benadryl, so I don't find it a useful tool.
 

sb4

Senior Member
Messages
1,536
Likes
2,675
Location
United Kingdom
Heart rate variability is measuring the difference between individual heart beats right? So if your heart rate is really low like you say, it follows that the differences between each beat would be larger right? Perhaps your readings are due to normal people having HR of 60-80.
 

Jyoti

Moderator
Messages
3,112
Likes
8,609
So if your heart rate is really low like you say, it follows that the differences between each beat would be larger right? Perhaps your readings are due to normal people having HR of 60-80.
Possibly! It is mysterious; I was hoping to find someone who had a similar situation going on. Thanks for the idea. I do find that there is an inverse relationship between my HR and my HRV--when the former goes up the latter comes down. Or vice versa. And in my case, that correlates to less exertion.
 

Learner1

Senior Member
Messages
5,909
Likes
10,730
Location
Pacific Northwest
What BB do you take? Bc it seems to pretend; some increase HRV
metoprolol extended release
So if your heart rate is really low like you say, it follows that the differences between each beat would be larger right?
HRV is the variability between different heart beats, so high HRV is a wider variation in timing between heart beats than with low HRV where the time between different heart beats is mostly the same.
I do find that there is an inverse relationship between my HR and my HRV--when the former goes up the latter comes down. Or vice versa. And in my case, that correlates to less exertion.
This is not the case for me. I find it highly dependent on what drugs I've been taking... metoprolol and benadryl push it down. I take metoprolol daily unless I forget, and I only take Benadryl 3 days every 3 weeks.

These with pulse of 62:
Screenshot_20210828-080244.png
Screenshot_20210828-080435.png
Screenshot_20210828-080402.png


These are with pulse of 58:
Screenshot_20210828-080018.png

Screenshot_20210828-075816.png




These with pulse of 70-71:
Screenshot_20210828-080045.png

Screenshot_20210828-075155.png
 

Jyoti

Moderator
Messages
3,112
Likes
8,609
This is sobering to see @Learner1. I knew I was way out of the norm, but now I am feeling just how far.

I guess I will bring it up with a doctor shortly.....

Screenshot 2021-08-28 at 8.34.50 AM.png.jpeg
 

Learner1

Senior Member
Messages
5,909
Likes
10,730
Location
Pacific Northwest
This is sobering to see @Learner1. I knew I was way out of the norm, but now I am feeling just how far.

I guess I will bring it up with a doctor shortly.....
Wow! That's amazing! The absolute highest HRV I've had was 115, for a short time, and highest average has been 70. From what I've read, higher HRV is supposed to reflect better heart fitness, but I am well aware that my drugs are masking what my true HRV is, but I can't function without them. And frustratingly, the only research I've seen is either on very ill cardiac patients or on high level athletes, so that doesn't really apply to us.

Is your extremely low heart rate due to a long history of marathon running? 🤔 If you went to a cardiologist, I would think they would be very excited to see how well you're doing!!

Seriously, though, It might definitely be worth looking at why you're variability is so high. I know it is supposed to be individual and comparing to other people is not the right thing to do, but I have never seen anyone with an HRV reading over 200. I would think an autonomic neurologist would be able to help you answer that question.
 

Markus83

Senior Member
Messages
276
Likes
304
@Jyoti I didn't read the whole thread. Just wanted to ask if you can export the raw data of your beat to beat intervals as a text file. Most applications should have this function. These are usually numbers between 500 and 1500 ms (milliseconds), depending on your heart rate. I would like to take a look at the raw data and also do an analysis with Cubios Software for comparison.