We consider the use of a running measure of power spectrum disorder to distinguish between the normal sinus rhythm of the heart and two forms of cardiac arrhythmia: atrial fibrillation and atrial flutter. This spectral entropy measure is motivated by characteristic differences in the power spectra of beat timings during the three rhythms. We plot patient data derived from ten-beat windows on a “disorder map” and identify rhythm-defining ranges in the level and variance of spectral entropy values. Employing the spectral entropy within an automatic arrhythmia detection algorithm enables the classification of periods of atrial fibrillation from the time series of patients’ beats. When the algorithm is set to identify abnormal rhythms within , it agrees with 85.7% of the annotations of professional rhythm assessors; for a response time of , this becomes 89.5%, and with , it is 90.3%. The algorithm provides a rapid way to detect atrial fibrillation, demonstrating usable response times as low as . Measures of disorder in the frequency domain have practical significance in a range of biological signals: the techniques described in this paper have potential application for the rapid identification of disorder in other rhythmic signals.
- Received 22 September 2008
©2009 American Physical Society