Heart rate variability (HRV) analysis, which is an important tool for activity assessment of the cardiac autonomic nervous system, very often includes the estimation of power spectra for series of interbeat intervals (IBI). Ectopic beats and artifacts have a destructive effect on the standard methods (Fourier transform, FFT) for frequency analysis. This study investigates an alternative method for calculation of the periodogram using a robust period detection (RPD).
Error free IBI series of 5 minutes for 221 subjects during one day were artificially distorted by randomly changing IBI values by ±15-40%. The low to high frequency rate (LF/HF) were calculated from periodograms estimated by the FFT, RPD and Lomb (LSP) methods for both error free and distorted series and for series with removed beats. Log transformed LF/HF values for series with distorted/removed beats were compared to undistorted values by linear regression.
For series with 10% of distorted IBI values the regression analysis between distorted and undistorted series showed a goodness of fit, coefficient and intercept of 0.98, 0.94 and 0.02, respectively. In comparison, the values of these parameters were (0.34, 0.46, -1.61) and (0.28, 0.42,-1.32) for the FFT and LSP methods, respectively. Similarly, the comparison between series with removed and undistorted beats yielded goodness of fit, coefficient and intercept of (0.98, 0.96, -0.01), (0.93, 0.78, -0.02) and (0.98, 0.95, 0.19) for RPD, FFT and LSP, respectively.
The RPD method demonstrated superior performance compared to the FFT and LSP method by estimation of power spectral characteristics for HRV analysis.