“Like water which can clearly mirror the sky and the trees only so long as its surface is undisturbed, the mind can only reflect the true image of the Self when it is tranquil and wholly relaxed.”— Anon
Nothing is independent in this world. The most dominant rhythm controls the smaller rhythms. This applies to the human body as well, where breathing is the most dominant rhythm which controls all others, including the heart. In physics, this is known as mode-locking. This can be easily seen in children where the heart runs faster on deep breathing in and goes slow when the child breathes out—mistakenly called sinus arrhythmia. In fact, this is the healthiest heart. This disappears gradually, as the child grows up in this wicked world and starts hating some people. If only we can nurture a child’s heart all our lives, we can have a healthy heart—a secret one should learn. Unfortunately, as we grow up, we seem to pile up all the negative traits like hatred, anger, super ego, jealousy, pride and hostility; each one of which tries to push us into the sympathetic mode that creates altered breathing pattern and gradually reduces our heart rate variability (HRV). The day HRV completely disappears and the heart becomes truly regular, man’s heart stops.
But the good news is that, if we learn to become altruistic, HRV returns to normal again making the heart tick. I have been working with my associates for decades on HRV and human nature but the work was hampered by the absence of any reliable bedside gadget to study this most important parameter of heart’s function which made it cumbersome and forced it to remain a research tool until a professor friend of mine in Germany devised a simple bedside tool to do this. This is not encouraged by the industry and the conventional cardiology establishments as there is no big money involved here. They are also worried that their surrogate money-spinning diagnostic tests, like stress tests, echo and angiograms, might go out of the window if HRV becomes widely known and accepted by patients.
In effect, HRV has diagnostic as well as prognostic value, especially the latter. It is basically non-invasive and patient-friendly. It is easily reproducible and is specific and highly sensitive for detecting heart diseases of all hues. There is mounting evidence to show the futility of an expensive angiogram in diagnosing and prognostication based on routine coronary angiograms. For example, “Less than 30% of the heart attack related coronary arteries are more than 50% blocked,” wrote Valentine Fuster from New York, years ago. Now comes an extensive study from America (our Indian intellectuals believe only such studies) which totally dissociates coronary arteries from heart attacks.
Routine coronary angiograms were done on a cohort of men. Those with single vessel disease were left alone but it was predicted that, sooner or later, they will get a heart attack from that vessel block. Follow-up showed that some of them did get an infarct (heart attack) but never in the area of the heart supplied by that single blocked vessel! The infarct was always elsewhere. Most doctors are already aware of the normal coronary artery angina (NCA angina).
Breathing modulates the heart rhythm through the autonomic nervous system. Deep breathing stimulates the sympathetic tone while breathing out gives a parasympathetic tranquil tone. A small child loves everyone and everything in this world and, so, is always in the tranquil parasympathetic mode smiling around 1,000 times in 24 hours! This results in deliberate irregular heart (HRV) as described above.
When we try to bring the human mind, filled with negative feelings, back on track through meditation and breathing techniques like pranayama, HRV becomes normal. Our finding in 100 patients with advanced coronary disease has been published already. HRV is the safest and most reliable diagnostic and prognostic test for coronary disease.