The holiday season is not so merry for many who end up in the
hospital or worse due to heart problems. An unfortunate stunning
relationship occurs between the holiday season and heart attacks
for both men and women. According to a study from the Journal of
Circulation, “The number of cardiac deaths is higher on December
25 than on any other day of the year, second highest on December
26, and third highest on January 1.”
Chiropractic adjustments are proven to enable the body’s ability to
deal with stress. A key indicator to lowering stress while
improving health and longevity is an increase in heart rate
variability. This study evaluated the effects of spinal adjustive care
on autonomic function through the assessment of changes
observed in the heart rate variability of nineteen healthy young
adult subjects. The results were as follows:
• This study was designed to determine the acute effect of upper cervical spine manipulation on cardiac
autonomic control as measured by heart rate variability.
• 19 healthy, young adult subjects underwent cervical spinal adjustive care versus sham manipulation. Six
minutes of electrocardiographic data were collected before and after each intervention, and heart rate
variability was assessed.
• Subjects were eliminated for these factors: hypertension, caffeine consumption within 4 hours, tobacco use
within 48 hours, history of cardiovascular disease, neuropathic disorders, unexplained episodes of syncope,
and any musculoskeletal signs/symptoms.
• Previous studies have shown that manual therapies can affect vagal function.
• Cervical manipulation may have direct effects on the parasympathetic nervous system.
• The suboccipital decompression used in this study caused “significant changes consistent with an enhanced
parasympathetic control of heart rate.”
• This study demonstrates that suboccipital manipulative decompression can affect heart rate variability.
“This effect is consistent with potential changes in the control of heart by the parasympathetic nervous
• This data supports the hypothesis that upper cervical spinal adjustive care can affect measures of heart rate
variability, and thus autonomic function, in healthy individuals.
It is well known that the holiday season brings increased amounts of stress. Extra financial stress from
buying gifts, holiday travel, and increased consumption of sugar, salt, and alcohol affect virtually
everyone. Though most people will not suffer heart attacks this holiday season, stress levels will be
greater in December and early January compared to any other part of the year. The greatest season for
stress occurs from mid-November to mid-January. With a heightened awareness and a few simple
strategies, the effects of stress can be limited or avoided altogether this holiday season. Chiropractic
spinal adjustments play a unique and important role in lowering the effects of stress in this hustling and
In this post we discussed the significance of the 2013 study published in the Journal of Complementary
and Alternative Medicine called “Suboccipital Decompression Enhances Heart Rate Variability Indices of
Cardiac Control in Healthy Subjects”.
- Published in Volume: 19 Issue 2: February 14, 2013