Is the normal heart a periodic oscillator?
Agnessa Babloyantz and Alain Destexhe

Biological Cybernetics 58: 203-211, 1988.

Online version of the paper
With the help of several independent methods of nonlinear dynamics, the electrocardiograms (ECG) of four normal human hearts are studied qualitatively and quantitatively. A total of 36 leads were tested. The power spectrum, the autocorrelation function, the phase portrait, the Poincare section, the correlation dimension, the Lyapunov exponent and the Kolmogorov entropy all point to the fact that the normal heart is not a perfect oscillator. The cardiac activity stems from deterministic dynamics of chaotic nature characterized by correlation dimensions D2 ranging from 3.6 to 5.2. Two different phase spaces are constructed for the evaluation of D2: the introduction of time lags and the direct use of space vectors give similar results. It is shown that the variabilities in interbeat intervals are not random but exhibit short range correlations governed by deterministic laws. These correlations may be related to the accelerating and decelerating physiological processes. This new approach to the cardiac activity may be used in clinical diagnosis. Also they are valuable tools for the evaluation of mathematical models which describe cardiac activity in terms of evolution equations.