Time‐domain heart rate variability features for automatic congestive heart failure prediction

Jeban Chandir Moses, Sasan Adibi, Maia Angelova, Sheikh Mohammed Shariful Islam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aims: Heart failure is a serious condition that often goes undiagnosed in primary care due to the lack of reliable diagnostic tools and the similarity of its symptoms with other diseases. Non-invasive monitoring of heart rate variability (HRV), which reflects the activity of the autonomic nervous system, could offer a novel and accurate way to detect and manage heart failure patients. This study aimed to assess the feasibility of using machine learning techniques on HRV data as a non-invasive biomarker to classify healthy adults and those with heart failure. Methods and results: We used digitized electrocardiogram recordings from 54 adults with normal sinus rhythm and 44 adults categorized into New York Heart Association classes 1, 2, and 3, suffering from congestive heart failure. All recordings were sourced from the PhysioNet database. Following data pre-processing, we performed time-domain HRV analysis on all individual recordings, including root mean square of the successive difference in adjacent RR interval (RRi) (RMSSD), the standard deviation of RRi (SDNN, the NN stands for natural or sinus intervals), the standard deviation of the successive differences between successive RRi (SDSD), the number or percentage of RRi longer than 50 ms (NN50 and pNN50), and the average value of RRi [mean RR interval (mRRi)]. In our experimental classification performance evaluation, on the computed HRV parameters, we optimized hyperparameters and performed five-fold cross-validation using four machine learning classification algorithms: support vector machine, k-nearest neighbour (KNN), naïve Bayes, and decision tree (DT). We evaluated the prediction accuracy of these models using performance criteria, namely, precision, recall, specificity, F1 score, and overall accuracy. For added insight, we also presented receiver operating characteristic (ROC) plots and area under the ROC curve (AUC) values. The overall best performance accuracy of 77% was achieved when KNN and DT were trained on computed HRV parameters with a 5 min time window. KNN obtained an AUC of 0.77, while DT attained 0.78. Additionally, in the classification of severe congestive heart failure, KNN and DT had the best accuracy of 91%, with KNN achieving an AUC of 0.88 and DT obtaining 0.92. Conclusions: The results show that HRV can accurately predict severe congestive heart failure. The findings of this study could inform the use of machine learning approaches on non-invasive HRV, to screen congestive heart failure individuals in primary care.

Original languageEnglish
JournalESC Heart Failure
Early online date27 Nov 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Nov 2023

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2023, The Authors. ESC Heart Failure published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of European Society of Cardiology. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


  • Heart failure
  • Heart rhythm
  • Time-domain
  • Machine learning
  • Prediction


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