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We present a study of the nonlinear dynamics of electrocardiogram (ECG) signals for arrhythmia characterization. The correlation dimension and largest Lyapunov exponent are used to model the chaotic nature of five different classes of ECG signals. The model parameters are evaluated for a large number of real ECG signals within each class and the results are reported. The presented algorithms allow automatic calculation of the features. The statistical analysis of the calculated features indicates that they differ significantly between normal heart rhythm and the different arrhythmia types and, hence, can be rather useful in ECG arrhythmia detection. On the other hand, the results indicate that the discrimination between different arrhythmia types is difficult using such features. The results of this work are supported by statistical analysis that provides a clear outline for the potential uses and limitations of these features.