Nonlinear time series analysis of electrocardiograms

A. Bezerianos, T. Bountis, G. Papaioannou, P. Polydoropoulos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In recent years there has been an increasing number of papers in the literature, applying the methods and techniques of Nonlinear Dynamics to the time series of electrical activity in normal electrocardiograms (ECGs) of various human subjects. Most of these studies are based primarily on correlation dimension estimates, and conclude that the dynamics of the ECG signal is deterministic and occurs on a chaotic attractor, whose dimension can distinguish between healthy and severely malfunctioning cases. In this paper, we first demonstrate that correlation dimension calculations must be used with care, as they do not always yield reliable estimates of the attractor's "dimension." We then carry out a number of additional tests (time differencing, smoothing, principal component analysis, surrogate data analysis, etc.) on the ECGs of three "normal" subjects and three "heavy smokers" at rest and after mild exercising, whose cardiac rhythms look very similar. Our main conclusion is that no major dynamical differences are evident in these signals. A preliminary estimate of three to four basic variables governing the dynamics (based on correlation dimension calculations) is updated to five to six, when temporal correlations between points are removed. Finally, in almost all cases, the transition between resting and mild exercising seems to imply a small increase in the complexity of cardiac dynamics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-101
Number of pages7
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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