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Background: Wavelet-based methods of analyzing ECG signals have been used to identify specific features in cardiac arrhythmias. Since some of these features are rate dependent, it is a requirement that they are examined across a range of physiological heart rates. The wavelet transform is a signal analysis tool that can elucidate spectral and temporal information simultaneously from complex signals, including the ECG. The aim of this study was to identify the local frequency characteristics of the ECG using a real-time wavelet scalogram and to study the rate dependence of these features. Methods: We examined the spectral temporal behavior of the local characteristics of the electrocardiogram (ECG) of 10 patients, in whom precise control of heart rate was achieved using right atrial pacing. Temporary reprogramming was used to adjust the paced atrial rate to predetermined values so that a rate-controlled rhythm was produced that closely resembled sinus rhythm. Results: Rate-dependent features are seen on time-frequency scalograms. As the rate increases, the temporal spacing of features decrease and the frequency bands shift upward on the plot. Two patients with abnormal atrioventricular conduction demonstrate features of Wenckebach conduction and fusion. Conclusions: Characterization of the rate-dependent features of the ECG in a paced atrial rhythm by wavelet transform techniques has revealed some additional information not readily seen on single lead ECG analysis. This model provides a surrogate for changes that might be expected during rate changes in physiological sinus rhythm. It is envisaged that this method will offer advantages in detecting features of clinical significance that may not be readily seen by existing methods.

Original publication




Journal article


Annals of Noninvasive Electrocardiology

Publication Date





316 - 322