Changes in Continuous, Long-Term Heart Rate Variability and Individualized Physiological Responses to Wellness and Vacation Interventions Using a Wearable Sensor
Frontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine, Vol. 7 – 2020
There are many approaches to maintaining wellness, including taking a simple vacation to attending highly structured wellness retreats, which typically regulate the attendee’s personal time and activities. In a healthy English-speaking cohort of 112 women and men (aged 30-80 years), this study examined the effects of participating in either a 6-days intensive wellness retreat based on Ayurvedic medicine principles or unstructured 6-days vacation at the same wellness center setting. Heart rate variability (HRV) was monitored continuously using a wearable ECG sensor patch for up to 7 days prior to, during, and 1-month following participation in the interventions. Additionally, salivary cortisol levels were assessed for all participants at multiple times during the day. Continual HRV monitoring data in the real-world setting was seen to be associated with demographic [HRVALF: βAge = 0.98 (95% CI = 0.96-0.98), false discovery rate (FDR) < 0.001] and physiological characteristics [HRVPLF: β = 0.98 (95% CI = 0.98-1), FDR =0.005] of participants. HRV features were also able to quantify known diurnal variations [HRVLF/HF: βACT:night vs. early-morning = 2.69 (SE = 1.26), FDR < 0.001] along with notable inter- and intraperson heterogeneity in response to intervention. A statistically significant increase in HRVALF [β = 1.48 (SE = 1.1), FDR < 0.001] was observed for all participants during the resort visit. Personalized HRV analysis at an individual level showed a distinct individualized response to intervention, further supporting the utility of using continuous real-world tracking of HRV at an individual level to objectively measure responses to potentially stressful or relaxing settings.