Detection of asphyxia using heart rate variability

Anita Boardman, F S Schlindwein, N V Thakor, T Kimura, R G Geocadin

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18 Citations (SciVal)


The long-term aims of this study are to find a parameter derived from the ECG that has a high sensitivity and specificity to asphyxia and, once we know or suspect that asphyxia occurred, to estimate how severe it was. We carried out a pilot study in which 24 adult Wistar rats were anaesthetised and subjected to controlled asphyxia for specified durations. We measured the pH, 'neurological score' and the ECG, extracting from this heart rate and heart rate variability (HRV). We have developed a technique capable of detecting asphyxia in less than I min, based on monitoring the ECG and estimating HRV by measuring the standard deviation of normal RR intervals (the RR interval is the time interval between two consecutive R-points of the QRS complex). In all cases the heart rate decreased and HRV increased, by an average of 46 +/- 33 ms in relation to the baseline, at the onset of asphyxia. The comparison of the base level of HRV after and before asphyxia shows promise for the estimation of the severity of the episode; however, the limitations of this study should be noted as they include the small size of the cohort and the methods of analysis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)618-624
Number of pages7
JournalMedical and Biological Engineering and Computing
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • detection
  • heart rate variability
  • Wistar
  • ECG
  • cardiac-arrest
  • animal model
  • asphyxia


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