It has been demonstrated that heart rate variability (HRV) is predictive of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality using clinical ECG recordings. This is true for rest, exercise and ambulatory HRV clinical ECG device recordings in prospective cohorts. Recently, there has been a rapid increase in the use of mobile health technologies (mHealth) and commercial wearable fitness devices. Most of these devices use ECG or photo-based plethysmography and both are validated for providing accurate heart rate measurements. This offers the opportunity to make risk information from HRV more widely available. The physiology of HRV and the available technology by which it can be assessed has been summarised in Part 1 of this review. In Part 2 the association between HRV and risk stratification is addressed by reviewing the current evidence from data acquired by resting ECG, exercise ECG and medical ambulatory devices. This is followed by a discussion of the use of HRV to guide the training of athletes and as a part of fitness programmes.
Keywords: Heart rate variability; athletic performance; athletic training; exercise; mobile health technologies; prognosis.