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The heart rate variability (HRV) is an extended tool to analyze the mechanisms controlling the cardiovascular system. In this paper, the integral pulse frequency modulation model (IPFM) is assumed. It generates the beat occurrence times from a modulating signal. This signal is thought to represent the autonomic nervous system action, mostly studied in its frequency components. Different spectral estimation methods try to infer the modulating signal characteristics from the available beat timing on the electrocardiogram signal. These methods estimate the spectrum through the heart period (HP) or the heart rate (HR) signal. The authors introduce a new time domain HRV signal, the Heart Timing (HT) signal. They demonstrate that this HT signal, in contrast with the HR or HP, makes it possible to recover an unbiased estimation of the modulating signal spectra. In this estimation the authors avoid the spurious components and the low-pass filtering effect generated when analyzing HR or HP.
Date of Publication: Aug. 2000