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Analysis of Noise Level Effects on Signal-Averaged Electrocardiograms

Authors: Chun-Cheng Lin


Noise level has critical effects on the diagnostic performance of signal-averaged electrocardiogram (SAECG), because the true starting and end points of QRS complex would be masked by the residual noise and sensitive to the noise level. Several studies and commercial machines have used a fixed number of heart beats (typically between 200 to 600 beats) or set a predefined noise level (typically between 0.3 to 1.0 μV) in each X, Y and Z lead to perform SAECG analysis. However different criteria or methods used to perform SAECG would cause the discrepancies of the noise levels among study subjects. According to the recommendations of 1991 ESC, AHA and ACC Task Force Consensus Document for the use of SAECG, the determinations of onset and offset are related closely to the mean and standard deviation of noise sample. Hence this study would try to perform SAECG using consistent root-mean-square (RMS) noise levels among study subjects and analyze the noise level effects on SAECG. This study would also evaluate the differences between normal subjects and chronic renal failure (CRF) patients in the time-domain SAECG parameters. The study subjects were composed of 50 normal Taiwanese and 20 CRF patients. During the signal-averaged processing, different RMS noise levels were adjusted to evaluate their effects on three time domain parameters (1) filtered total QRS duration (fQRSD), (2) RMS voltage of the last QRS 40 ms (RMS40), and (3) duration of the low amplitude signals below 40 μV (LAS40). The study results demonstrated that the reduction of RMS noise level can increase fQRSD and LAS40 and decrease the RMS40, and can further increase the differences of fQRSD and RMS40 between normal subjects and CRF patients. The SAECG may also become abnormal due to the reduction of RMS noise level. In conclusion, it is essential to establish diagnostic criteria of SAECG using consistent RMS noise levels for the reduction of the noise level effects.

Keywords: Signal-averaged electrocardiogram, Ventricular latepotentials, Chronic renal failure, Noise level effects.

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