Medical and Biological Engineering and Computing

, Volume 44, Issue 12, pp 1031–1051

Heart rate variability: a review


    • Department of ECENgee Ann Polytechnic
  • K. Paul Joseph
    • Electrical EngineeringNational Institute of Technology Calicut
  • N. Kannathal
    • Department of ECENgee Ann Polytechnic
  • Choo Min Lim
    • Department of ECENgee Ann Polytechnic
  • Jasjit S. Suri
    • Idaho’s Biomedical Research Institute
    • Biomedical Technologies Inc.
Review Article

DOI: 10.1007/s11517-006-0119-0

Cite this article as:
Rajendra Acharya, U., Paul Joseph, K., Kannathal, N. et al. Med Bio Eng Comput (2006) 44: 1031. doi:10.1007/s11517-006-0119-0


Heart rate variability (HRV) is a reliable reflection of the many physiological factors modulating the normal rhythm of the heart. In fact, they provide a powerful means of observing the interplay between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. It shows that the structure generating the signal is not only simply linear, but also involves nonlinear contributions. Heart rate (HR) is a nonstationary signal; its variation may contain indicators of current disease, or warnings about impending cardiac diseases. The indicators may be present at all times or may occur at random—during certain intervals of the day. It is strenuous and time consuming to study and pinpoint abnormalities in voluminous data collected over several hours. Hence, HR variation analysis (instantaneous HR against time axis) has become a popular noninvasive tool for assessing the activities of the autonomic nervous system. Computer based analytical tools for in-depth study of data over daylong intervals can be very useful in diagnostics. Therefore, the HRV signal parameters, extracted and analyzed using computers, are highly useful in diagnostics. In this paper, we have discussed the various applications of HRV and different linear, frequency domain, wavelet domain, nonlinear techniques used for the analysis of the HRV.


Heart rate variabilityAutonomic nervous systemPoincare plotSurrogate dataANOVA testPhase space plotCorrelation dimensionLyapunov exponentApproximate entropySample entropyHurst exponentWavelet transformRecurrent plot

Copyright information

© International Federation for Medical and Biological Engineering 2006