Heart rate variability indices for very short-term (30 beat) analysis. Part 1: survey and toolbox

Anne-Louise Smith, Harry Owen, Karen Reynolds

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    48 Citations (Scopus)


    Heart rate variability (HRV) analysis over very short (<60 s) periods may be useful for monitoring dynamic changes in autonomic nervous system activity where steady-state conditions are not maintained (e.g. during drug administration, or the start or end of exercise). From the 1980s there has been a wealth of HRV indices produced in the quest for better measures of the change in parasympathetic and sympathetic activity. Many of the indices have been sparingly used and have not been investigated for application to short-term use. This study surveyed published methods of HRV analysis searching for indices that could be applied to very short time HRV analysis. The survey included measures of time domain, frequency domain, respiratory sinus arrhythmia, Poincaré plot, and heart rate characteristics. Indices were tested with short segments of archived data to remove those that produced invalid results, or were mathematically equivalent to, but less well known than other indices. The survey identified a comprehensive list of 115 indices that were subsequently coded and screened. Of these, 70 were unique and produced a finite number with 60 s data, so are included in the Toolbox. These indices require validation against physiological data before they can be applied to short-term HRV analysis of cardiac autonomic nervous system activity.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)569-576
    Number of pages8
    JournalJournal of Clinical Monitoring and Computing
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013


    • Autonomic nervous system (ANS) modulation
    • Biomedical signal processing
    • Heart rate variability (HRV)
    • Software algorithms


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