Automatic cardiac rhythm interpretation during resuscitation

Ali Bahrami Rad*, Kjersti Engan, Aggelos K. Katsaggelos, Jan Terje Kvaløy, Lars Wik, Jo Kramer-Johansen, Unai Irusta, Trygve Eftestøl

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Aim: Resuscitation guidelines recommend different treatments depending on the patient's cardiac rhythm. Rhythm interpretation is a key tool to retrospectively evaluate and improve the quality of treatment. Manual rhythm annotation is time consuming and an obstacle for handling large resuscitation datasets efficiently. The objective of this study was to develop a system for automatic rhythm interpretation by using signal processing and machine learning algorithms. Methods: Data from 302 out of hospital cardiac arrest patients were used. In total 1669 3-second artifact free ECG segments with clinical rhythm annotations were extracted. The proposed algorithms combine 32 features obtained from both wavelet- and time-domain representations of the ECG, followed by a feature selection procedure based on the wrapper method in a nested cross-validation architecture. Linear and quadratic discriminant analyses (LDA and QDA) were used to automatically classify the segments into one of five rhythm types: ventricular tachycardia (VT), ventricular fibrillation (VF), pulseless electrical activity (PEA), asystole (AS), and pulse generating rhythms (PR). Results: The overall accuracy for the best algorithm was 68%. VT, VF, and AS are recognized with sensitivities of 71%, 75%, and 79%, respectively. Sensitivities for PEA and PR were 55% and 56%, respectively, which reflects the difficulty of identifying pulse using only the ECG. Conclusions: An ECG based automatic rhythm interpreter for resuscitation has been demonstrated. The interpreter handles VT, VF and AS well, while PEA and PR discrimination poses a more difficult problem.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)44-50
Number of pages7
StatePublished - May 1 2016


  • Cardiac rhythm interpretation
  • Cardiopulmonary resuscitation
  • Classification
  • Feature extraction
  • Feature selection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Emergency Medicine


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