Medical & Biological Engineering & Computing

, Volume 57, Issue 2, pp 477–487 | Cite as

Can one detect atrial fibrillation using a wrist-type photoplethysmographic device?

  • Sibylle FalletEmail author
  • Mathieu Lemay
  • Philippe Renevey
  • Célestin Leupi
  • Etienne Pruvot
  • Jean-Marc Vesin
Original article


This study aims at evaluating the potential of a wrist-type photoplethysmographic (PPG) device to discriminate between atrial fibrillation (AF) and other types of rhythm. Data from 17 patients undergoing catheter ablation of various arrhythmias were processed. ECGs were used as ground truth and annotated for the following types of rhythm: sinus rhythm (SR), AF, and ventricular arrhythmias (VA). A total of 381/1370/415 10-s epochs were obtained for the three categories, respectively. After pre-processing and removal of segments corresponding to motion artifacts, two different types of feature were derived from the PPG signals: the interbeat interval-based features and the wave-based features, consisting of complexity/organization measures that were computed either from the PPG waveform itself or from its power spectral density. Decision trees were used to assess the discriminative capacity of the proposed features. Three classification schemes were investigated: AF against SR, AF against VA, and AF against (SR&VA). The best results were achieved by combining all features. Accuracies of 98.1/95.9/95.0 %, specificities of 92.4/88.7/92.8 %, and sensitivities of 99.7/98.1/96.2 % were obtained for the three aforementioned classification schemes, respectively.

Graphical Abstract

Atrial fibrillation detection using PPG signals


Photoplethysmography Arrhythmias Atrial fibrillation 


Funding information

This work was funded thanks to the Swiss NanoTera initiative, NTF project MiniHolter.


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Copyright information

© International Federation for Medical and Biological Engineering 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sibylle Fallet
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mathieu Lemay
    • 2
  • Philippe Renevey
    • 2
  • Célestin Leupi
    • 3
  • Etienne Pruvot
    • 3
  • Jean-Marc Vesin
    • 1
  1. 1.Swiss Federal Institute of TechnologyLausanneSwitzerland
  2. 2.Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology (CSEM)NeuchâtelSwitzerland
  3. 3.Arrhythmia Unit, Heart and Vascular DepartmentLausanne University HospitalLausanneSwitzerland

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