As we age, our hearts undergo changes that result in a reduction in complexity of physiological interactions between different control mechanisms. This results in a potential risk of cardiovascular diseases which are the number one cause of death globally. Since cardiac signals are nonstationary and nonlinear in nature, complexity measures are better suited to handle such data. In this study, three complexity measures are used, namely Lempel–Ziv complexity (LZ), Sample Entropy (SampEn) and Effort-To-Compress (ETC). We determined the minimum length of RR tachogram required for characterizing complexity of healthy young and healthy old hearts. All the three measures indicated significantly lower complexity values for older subjects than younger ones. However, the minimum length of heart-beat interval data needed differs for the three measures, with LZ and ETC needing as low as 10 samples, whereas SampEn requires at least 80 samples. Our study indicates that complexity measures such as LZ and ETC are good candidates for the analysis of cardiovascular dynamics since they are able to work with very short RR tachograms.
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Dr. Karthi Balasubramanian and Nagaraj, N., “Aging and cardiovascular complexity: effect of the length of RR tachograms”, PeerJ, vol. 4, p. e2755, 2016.