You’ve probably noticed people wearing red this month, possibly in celebration of Valentine's Day... but did you know that February is also American Heart Month? In celebration of this lub dub holiday, we sat down with Point's Medical Advisor, Dr. Ricky Bush, to discuss what every person needs to know about their heart health and get to the bottom of his crush on Heart Rate Variability (HRV).
What should everyone know about their heart?
You might think your heart health is largely determined by genetics, and that nature far outweighs nurture when it comes to matters of the heart. But you'd be wrong. Only 30% of heart capacity is genetic, which means you have 70% opportunity to improve your heart health.
That's pretty relieving to hear. So how can we improve our heart health?
Heart health can be improved through exercise, a well-balanced diet, sleep and reducing stress. It often surprises people to know heart health is impacted by this variety of factors.
Should a middle aged person be more concerned with their heart health than someone, say, in their 20s?
Since we know the majority of heart health is determined by health "choices," I'd say there's work to be done at every age! Even if your chronological age is 25, you can determine your true biological age (physiological age) with the heart rate variability (HRV) metric, and work to improve it.
What's heart rate variability?
I'm so glad you asked! Heart rate variability measures the difference (in seconds) between heart beats. It's regulated by the nervous system and controls when your body goes from sympathetic (think fight or flight mode) and parasympathetic (relaxed) systems.
For folks who have an Apple Watch or fitness tracker, would you say HRV is the most important metric?
Yes. People are realizing now that heart rate alone isn't an indicator of health, and HRV is much more useful in determining their biological age. It helps us understand how healthy you are.
What should fitness and health companies do to encourage healthy habits?
Not to sound like a broken record, but it's all about HRV! Fitness and health companies should put an emphasis on HRV as a way to impact overall health. People should know the role they play in improving their heart health. Consumers today have so much data at their fingertips, and they need guidance on how to make healthier decisions given their specific data.
We, too, are big fans of HRV. In fact, it's a key recovery metric in our app. Want more heart health knowledge? Head over to our Instagram to read up on health metrics to your heart's desire. @areyouonpoint