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Adaptive Filtering of Heart Rate Signals for an Improved Measure of Cardiac Autonomic Control

Authors: Desmond B. Keenan, Paul Grossman


In order to provide accurate heart rate variability indices of sympathetic and parasympathetic activity, the low frequency and high frequency components of an RR heart rate signal must be adequately separated. This is not always possible by just applying spectral analysis, as power from the high and low frequency components often leak into their adjacent bands. Furthermore, without the respiratory spectra it is not obvious that the low frequency component is not another respiratory component, which can appear in the lower band. This paper describes an adaptive filter, which aids the separation of the low frequency sympathetic and high frequency parasympathetic components from an ECG R-R interval signal, enabling the attainment of more accurate heart rate variability measures. The algorithm is applied to simulated signals and heart rate and respiratory signals acquired from an ambulatory monitor incorporating single lead ECG and inductive plethysmography sensors embedded in a garment. The results show an improvement over standard heart rate variability spectral measurements.

Keywords: Heart rate variability, vagal tone, sympathetic, parasympathetic, spectral analysis, adaptive filter.

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