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      Everything Hertz: methodological issues in short-term frequency-domain HRV

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          Abstract

          Frequency analysis of the electrocardiographic RR interval is a common method of quantifying autonomic outflow by measuring the beat-to-beat modulation of the heart (heart rate variability; HRV). This review identifies a series of problems with the methods of doing so—the interpretation of low-frequency spectral power, the multiple use of equivalent normalized low frequency (LFnu), high frequency (HFnu) and ratio (LF/HF) terms, and the lack of control over extraneous variables, and reviews research in the calendar year 2012 to determine their prevalence and severity. Results support the mathematical equivalency of ratio units across studies, a reliance on those variables to explain autonomic outflow, and insufficient control of critical experimental variables. Research measurement of HRV has a substantial need for general methodological improvement.

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          Most cited references 108

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          Heart rate variability: standards of measurement, physiological interpretation and clinical use. Task Force of the European Society of Cardiology and the North American Society of Pacing and Electrophysiology.

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            Quantification of scaling exponents and crossover phenomena in nonstationary heartbeat time series.

            The healthy heartbeat is traditionally thought to be regulated according to the classical principle of homeostasis whereby physiologic systems operate to reduce variability and achieve an equilibrium-like state [Physiol. Rev. 9, 399-431 (1929)]. However, recent studies [Phys. Rev. Lett. 70, 1343-1346 (1993); Fractals in Biology and Medicine (Birkhauser-Verlag, Basel, 1994), pp. 55-65] reveal that under normal conditions, beat-to-beat fluctuations in heart rate display the kind of long-range correlations typically exhibited by dynamical systems far from equilibrium [Phys. Rev. Lett. 59, 381-384 (1987)]. In contrast, heart rate time series from patients with severe congestive heart failure show a breakdown of this long-range correlation behavior. We describe a new method--detrended fluctuation analysis (DFA)--for quantifying this correlation property in non-stationary physiological time series. Application of this technique shows evidence for a crossover phenomenon associated with a change in short and long-range scaling exponents. This method may be of use in distinguishing healthy from pathologic data sets based on differences in these scaling properties.
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              Power spectrum analysis of heart rate fluctuation: a quantitative probe of beat-to-beat cardiovascular control.

              Power spectrum analysis of heart rate fluctuations provides a quantitative noninvasive means of assessing the functioning of the short-term cardiovascular control systems. We show that sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous activity make frequency-specific contributions to the heart rate power spectrum, and that renin-angiotensin system activity strongly modulates the amplitude of the spectral peak located at 0.04 hertz. Our data therefore provide evidence that the renin-angiotensin system plays a significant role in short-term cardiovascular control in the time scale of seconds to minutes.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                Front Physiol
                Front Physiol
                Front. Physiol.
                Frontiers in Physiology
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                1664-042X
                07 May 2014
                2014
                : 5
                Affiliations
                Psychophysiology Group, Department of Psychology, University of Sydney Sydney, NSW, Australia
                Author notes

                Edited by: Karin Trimmel, Medical University of Vienna, Austria

                Reviewed by: Alessandro Capucci, Universita' Politecnica delle Marche, Italy; Steven Pogwizd, University of Alabama at Birmingham, USA; Shien-Fong Lin, Indiana University School of Medicine, USA

                *Correspondence: James A. J. Heathers, Psychophysiology Group, Department of Psychology, University of Sydney, Building A18, Griffith-Taylor Building, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia e-mail: jamesheathers@ 123456gmail.com

                This article was submitted to Cardiac Electrophysiology, a section of the journal Frontiers in Physiology.

                10.3389/fphys.2014.00177
                4019878
                Copyright © 2014 Heathers.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                Counts
                Figures: 11, Tables: 2, Equations: 1, References: 109, Pages: 15, Words: 11817
                Categories
                Physiology
                Review Article

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