Heart rate variability - a method for assessing autonomic function

Heart rate variability designates the variation in heart rate that occurs between each heartbeat. It reflects the activity of the autonomic nervous system. At MT-FoU, we develop methods for analysis of heart rate variability which are then used in various clinical studies

What is heart rate variability? 
The heart rate and blood pressure in healthy individuals vary from heartbeat to heartbeat. However, the changes do not occur completely irregularly, but the variations consist of certain rhythms that reflect how the autonomic nervous system regulates blood circulation. Normally, the heart rate follows respiration when taking deep slow breaths, while this covariation is absent in autonomic dysfunction. Analysis of heart rate variability (HRV) has in recent years become an accepted method for indirect and non-invasive diagnosis of autonomic disorders related to diseases such as diabetes. HRV has also been used to assess the risk of sudden cardiac death after a heart attack or other heart diseases.  

Our participation in clinical studies 
An extensive part of the activities at MT-FOU is the contribution of technical support and statistical analyses in various clinical studies. Analysis of HRV has been applied to a wide range of disease states in various clinical research projects at for example the Departments of Clinical Physiology,  MedicineCardiology, Neurosurgery,  Pediatrics and Sports Medicine. Examination of HRV has also been shown to be important in assessing the autonomic function of patients with the so-called Skellefteå disease (Familial Amyloidotic Polyneuropathy), before and after treatment.  

Our development of methods for analysis - from signal analysis to AI 
The technical activities include the development of various systems for HRV analysis, based on measuresuch as long-term measurements of ECG (so-called Holter ECG) and other heart rate monitors, or more advanced systems for real-time measurements in intensive care and in connection with certain therapeutic interventions. Our focus is on further development of the mathematical analysis of various signals that reflect how the heart and blood pressure are controlled. We also develop methods for identifying arrhythmias that can sometimes be difficult to distinguish from the normal regulation of the heart, which takes place via the autonomic nervous system. Since 2015 we also have on-going research with Luleå Technical University regarding cognitive architectures for data analysis, which in an AI based methodology, where we recently also started collaboration with La Trobe University in Melbourne regarding iterative learning systems.  

Urban Wiklund - urban.wiklund@regionvasterbotten.se  

Active Researchers: 
Urban Wiklund, Marcus Karlsson, and clinical doctoral students and researchers at NUS and Umeå University, as well as partners at other universities.