The P Wave Time-Frequency Variability Reflects Atrial Conduction Defects before Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation

Autores UPV


BACKGROUND: The study of atrial conduction defects associated with the onset of paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (PAF) can be addressed by analyzing the P wave from the surface electrocardiogram (ECG). Traditionally, signal-averaged ECGs have been mostly used for this purpose. However, this alternative hinders the possibility to quantify every single P wave, its variability over time, as well as to obtain complimentary and evolving information about the arrhythmia. This work analyzes the time progression of several time and frequency P wave features as potential indicators of atrial conduction variability several hours preceding the onset of PAF. METHODS: The longest sinus rhythm interval from 24-hour Holter recordings of 46 PAF patients was selected. Next, the 2 hours before the onset of PAF were extracted and divided into two 1-hour periods. Every single P wave was automatically delineated and characterized by 16 time and frequency metrics, such as its duration, absolute energy in several frequency bands and high-to-low-frequency energy ratios. Finally, the P wave variability over each 1-hour period was estimated from the 16 features making use of a least-squares linear fitting. As a reference, the same parameters were also estimated from a set of 1-hour ECG segments randomly chosen from a control group of 53 healthy subjects age-, gender-, and heart rate-matched. RESULTS: All the analyzed metrics provided an increasing P wave variability trend as the onset of PAF approximated, being P wave duration and P wave high-frequency energy the most significant individual metrics. The linear fitting slope α associated with P wave duration was (2.48 ± 1.98)¿10-2 for healthy subjects, (23.8 ± 14.1)¿10-2 for ECG segments far from PAF and for (81.8 ± 48.7)¿10-2 ECG segments close to PAF p = 6.96¿10-22 . Similarly, the P wave high-frequency energy linear fitting slope was (2.42 ± 4.97)¿10-9 , (54.2 ± 107.1)¿10-9 and (274.2 ± 566.1)¿10-9 , respectively (p = 2.85¿10-20 ). A univariate discriminant analysis provided that both P wave duration and P wave high-frequency energy could discern among the three ECG sets with diagnostic ability around 80%, which was improved up to 88% by combining these metrics in a multivariate discriminant analysis. CONCLUSION: Alterations in atrial conduction can be successfully quantified several hours before the onset of PAF by estimating variability over time of several time and frequency P wave features.