Comparison of methods for the assessment of nonlinearity in short-term heart rate variability under different physiopathological states

Luca Faes, Manuel Gómez-Extremera, Riccardo Pernice, Pedro Carpena, Giandomenico Nollo, Alberto Porta, Pedro Bernaola-Galván

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Despite the widespread diffusion of nonlinear methods for heart rate variability (HRV) analysis, the presence and the extent to which nonlinear dynamics contribute to short-term HRV are still controversial. This work aims at testing the hypothesis that different types of nonlinearity can be observed in HRV depending on the method adopted and on the physiopathological state. Two entropy-based measures of time series complexity (normalized complexity index, NCI) and regularity (information storage, IS), and a measure quantifying deviations from linear correlations in a time series (Gaussian linear contrast, GLC), are applied to short HRV recordings obtained in young (Y) and old (O) healthy subjects and in myocardial infarction (MI) patients monitored in the resting supine position and in the upright position reached through head-up tilt. The method of surrogate data is employed to detect the presence and quantify the contribution of nonlinear dynamics to HRV. We find that the three measures differ both in their variations across groups and conditions and in the percentage and strength of nonlinear HRV dynamics. NCI and IS displayed opposite variations, suggesting more complex dynamics in O and MI compared to Y and less complex dynamics during tilt. The strength of nonlinear dynamics is reduced by tilt using all measures in Y, while only GLC detects a significant strengthening of such dynamics in MI. A large percentage of detected nonlinear dynamics is revealed only by the IS measure in the Y group at rest, with a decrease in O and MI and during T, while NCI and GLC detect lower percentages in all groups and conditions. While these results suggest that distinct dynamic structures may lie beneath short-term HRV in different physiological states and pathological conditions, the strong dependence on the measure adopted and on their implementation suggests that physiological interpretations should be provided with caution.

Original languageEnglish
Article number123114
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Mathematical Physics
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Applied Mathematics


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