Monitoring of heart rate and inter-beat intervals with wrist plethysmography in patients with atrial fibrillation

Jarkko Harju, Adrian Tarniceriu, Jakub Parak, Antti Vehkaoja, Arvi Yli-Hankala, Ilkka Korhonen

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    Objective: Atrial fibrillation (AF) causes marked risk for patients, while silent fibrillation may remain unnoticed if not suspected and screened. Development of comfortable yet accurate beat-to-beat heart rate (HR) monitoring with good AF detection sensitivity would facilitate screening and improve treatment. The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether a wrist-worn photoplethysmography (PPG) device can be used to monitor beat-to-beat HR accurately during post-operative treatment in patients suffering from AF and whether wrist-PPG can be used to distinguish AF from sinus rhythm (SR). Approach: Twenty-nine patients (14 with AF, 15 with SR, mean age 71.5 years) with multiple comorbidities were monitored during routine post-operative treatment. The monitoring included standard ECG, finger PPG monitoring and a wrist-worn PPG monitor with green and infrared light sources. The HR from PPG sensors was compared against ECG-derived HR. Main results: The wrist PPG technology had very good HR and beat detection accuracy when using green light. For the SR group, the mean absolute error (MAE) for HR was 1.50 bpm, and for the inter-beat intervals (IBI), the MAE was 7.64 ms. For the AF group, the MAE for HR was 4.28 bpm and for IBI, the MAE was 14.67 ms. Accuracy for the infrared (IR) channel was worse. Finger PPG provided similar accuracy for HR and better accuracy for the IBI. AF detection sensitivity using green light was 99.0% and the specificity was 93.0%. Performance can be improved by discarding unreliable IBI periods. Significance: Results suggest that wrist PPG measurement allows accurate HR and beat-to-beat HR monitoring also in AF patients, and could be used for differentiating between SR and AF with very good sensitivity.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number065007
    Pages (from-to)065007
    JournalPhysiological Measurement
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 2018
    Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


    • atrial fibrillation
    • heart rate
    • perioperative monitoring
    • photoplethysmography
    • pulse rate

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