Being regular is dangerous to your health 25. September 2011 William Davis (21) No, I'm not referring to your daily morning ritual in the bathroom. I'm talking about heart rate.Counterintuitively, a perfectly regular heart rate is a marker of poor health. People with perfect regularity of heart rate have more heart attacks, for instance.Regularity of heart rate occurs more commonly in people with hypertension and other metabolic derangements, and it signals increased risk for both heart attack and death. A perfectly regular heart rate, i.e., no variation in the time interval from beat to beat, suggests that the parasympathetic nervous system, the component of automatic ("autonomic") nervous system control that is associated with the relaxation response, feelings of well-being, quiet, and relaxation, is weak. It also means that the opposing sympathetic nervous sytem that regulates the "fight or flight," adrenaline-like response is allowed to be dominant. Dominance of the sympathetic over the parasympathetic system generates regularity of heart rate. Heart rate also tends to be faster, e.g., 85 beats per minutes rather than 55 or 60 beats per minute. So perfect regularity, as well as increased rate, is undesirable.What we want is irregularity of heart rate. But not irregularity that occurs chaotically with no rhyme or reason. More precisely, we want variability in heart rate. And we want variability to occur in synchrony with breathing, i.e., the respiratory cycle.The ideal response is:1) increase in heart rate with inspiration2) decrease in heart rate with expiration.Heart rate in healthy people typically varies 15-20 beats per minute within the respiratory cycle, e.g., 60 bpm at end-exhalation, 80 bpm at end-inspiration. Restoration of increased heart rate variability is associated with reduced blood pressure, reduced blood sugars (HbA1c), reduced inflammatory markers and cortisol (associated with stress), even an increase in DHEA levels. Feelings of well-being and calm also develop. Among the strategies to consider to restore heightened heart rate variability and slowed heart rate include:--Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation--Exercise--Weight loss--Deep breathing exercises--Meditation, prayer, and biofeedbackFor our Track Your Plaque purposes, we are folding in the HeartMath strategies, i.e., use of a heart rate monitor that calculates heart rate variability in the context of respiratory cycle. If you've not already done so, take a look at the two Special Reports devoted to this topic on the Track Your Plaque website.