DOI: 10.1063/1.166141 ISSN:

Quantification of scaling exponents and crossover phenomena in nonstationary heartbeat time series

C.-K. Peng, Shlomo Havlin, H. Eugene Stanley, Ary L. Goldberger
  • Applied Mathematics
  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Mathematical Physics
  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics

The healthy heartbeat is traditionally thought to be regulated according to the classical principle of homeostasis whereby physiologic systems operate to reduce variability and achieve an equilibrium-like state [Physiol. Rev. 9, 399–431 (1929)]. However, recent studies [Phys. Rev. Lett. 70, 1343–1346 (1993); Fractals in Biology and Medicine (Birkhauser-Verlag, Basel, 1994), pp. 55–65] reveal that under normal conditions, beat-to-beat fluctuations in heart rate display the kind of long-range correlations typically exhibited by dynamical systems far from equilibrium [Phys. Rev. Lett. 59, 381–384 (1987)]. In contrast, heart rate time series from patients with severe congestive heart failure show a breakdown of this long-range correlation behavior. We describe a new method—detrended fluctuation analysis (DFA)—for quantifying this correlation property in non-stationary physiological time series. Application of this technique shows evidence for a crossover phenomenon associated with a change in short and long-range scaling exponents. This method may be of use in distinguishing healthy from pathologic data sets based on differences in these scaling properties.