Study on the P-wave feature time course as early predictors of paroxysmal atrial fibrillation

Autores UPV
Revista Physiological Measurement


Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common cardiac arrhythmia in clinical practice, increasing the risk of stroke and all-cause mortality. Its mechanisms are poorly understood, thus leading to different theories and controversial interpretation of its behavior. In this respect, it is unknown why AF is self-terminating in certain individuals, which is called paroxysmal AF (PAF), and not in others. Within the context of biomedical signal analysis, predicting the onset of PAF with a reasonable advance has been a clinical challenge in recent years. By predicting arrhythmia onset, the loss of normal sinus rhythm could be addressed by means of preventive treatments, thus minimizing risks for the patients and improving their quality of life. Traditionally, the study of PAF onset has been undertaken through a variety of features characterizing P-wave spatial diversity from the standard 12-lead electrocardiogram (ECG) or from signal-averaged ECGs. However, the variability of features from the P-wave time course before PAF onset has not been exploited yet. This work introduces a new alternative to assess time diversity of the P-wave features from single-lead ECG recordings. Furthermore, the method is able to assess the risk of arrhythmia 1 h before its onset, which is a relevant advance in order to provide clinically useful PAF risk predictors. Results were in agreement with the electrophysiological changes taking place in the atria. Hence, P-wave features presented an increasing variability as PAF onset approximates, thus suggesting intermittently disturbed conduction in the atrial tissue. In addition, high PAF risk prediction accuracy, greater than 90%, has been reached in the two considered scenarios, i.e. discrimination between healthy individuals and PAF patients and between patients far from PAF and close to PAF onset. Nonetheless, more long-term studies have to be analyzed and validated in future works.