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Estimation of Breathing Rate from Respiratory Sinus Arrhythmia: Comparison of Various Methods

Abstract

Although respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) is a well-known and often studied phenomenon, methods to estimate (average) respiratory rate from heart rate variability via RSA have been investigated and published only sparsely. We reinvestigate three published techniques and contrast them to our own approaches. All methods were also evaluated for respiration signals to yield approximations of the true breathing rate for comparison. Our analyses are based on physiological recordings available at PhysioNet, an online database. Results show that the RSA of young supine subjects yields good approximations of mean respiratory rate in the case of time series longer than 1 min, while the estimations become noticeably less accurate for elderly persons. Our own “advanced counting method” produced the best results, and in addition principally permits even the definition of instantaneous respiratory rates. Consequently, it is recommended for further investigations.

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Notes

  1. We optimized these factors empirically by testing values at intervals of 0.02. The threshold for HRV data is comparatively small, because (a) oscillations of RSA are not always as distinct as those of respiration itself and (b) “false” maxima or minima seem to occur less prominently in RSA.

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Acknowledgments

We would like to express our gratitude to PhysioNet and Iyengar et al.7 for making physiological data available to other researchers for further investigation. We consider PhysioNet a remarkable project deserving our appreciation.

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Correspondence to Axel Schäfer.

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Schäfer, A., Kratky, K.W. Estimation of Breathing Rate from Respiratory Sinus Arrhythmia: Comparison of Various Methods. Ann Biomed Eng 36, 476–485 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10439-007-9428-1

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Keywords

  • Respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA)
  • Heart rate variability (HRV)
  • Breathing rate
  • Respiratory frequency
  • Respiration
  • PhysioNet