Medical researchers have discovered the predictive potential of heart rate variability (HRV), or the varying time between heartbeats, can be used to measure everything from muscle performance to the onset of health issues. Now Tucson start up Autonomic Systems LLC (ANS) is developing wearable products that give the public access to this technology.
HRV has been found effective in tracking the effects of conditions like allergies, sleep apnea, epilepsy, stress, and anxiety. Since HRV is physiologically controlled by the autonomous nervous system, it has been found to be a direct indicator of our bodies’ reaction to stressful conditions, presenting prior to other systemic indications. If heart rate variability is high, it indicates that the body is tolerating stress effectively. Low HRV indicates that the body is experiencing stress, whether it be physical or psychological.
With Autonomic Systems’ HRV wearable products users can monitor their physiological condition in real time. Real time monitoring enables the early detection of autonomic stress, and, by providing the ability to monitor HRV at the same time as activity level, heart rate, respiration, and other pre-specified conditions and parameters, enables the detection of episodic events. Such determinations can provide unique relations between HRV and an event occurrence.
In addition, the product can, in real time, detect anaerobic threshold (the point in anaerobic exercise at which lactic acid builds up in athletes’ bloodstream faster than it can be cleared away), which endurance athletes are increasingly using to achieve peak performance in competition and training.
The monitors can be configured in a variety of forms, including chest straps, patches, and clothing, and they’re designed to use as little power as possible, ensuring long battery life. The wireless, self-contained devices provide real-time feedback to the user while maintaining capability to communicate with external devices.
ANS CMO Dr. Alice Ferng believes HRV will significantly reduce healthcare costs, as evidenced by the dramatic increase in HRV-related research papers that have been recently published. “It has reached the point where quick literature research on ‘heart rate variability’ and almost any physiological condition will yield multiple hits,” said Ferng.
ANS co-founder Mike Blake created the first heart rate variability android application in 2014. When he discovered that fitness researchers had identified the usefulness of HRV for athletics, he came up with the idea to integrate them into wearable products.
Each member of the Autonomic Systems team brings a unique specialty to the table. Blake is an inventor and electronics engineer who has committed himself to actively improving prototypes for the wearable products since 2013. Co-founder Rodney Kugizaki specializes in product, process development and intellectual property and is an expert in medical devices. He brings with him years of experience working for multi-national corporations that specialize in cutting edge medical technology. Chief Medical Officer Alice Ferng, Ph.D. is a professor at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, and brings 17 years of experience in biomedical engineering and clinical research to the team.
Bryce Fricklas is a journalist from Boulder, Colorado. He served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Senegal (2013 – 2015) and Guinea (2016), where he focused on community health. His interests include culture, music, nature conservancy, and public health. He is an MA candidate in international relations and international communication at Boston University.
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