Current Directions in Biomedical Engineering (Sep 2017)

Analysis and classification of ECG-waves and rhythms using circular statistics and vector strength

  • Janßen Jan-Dirk,
  • Schanze Thomas

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 3, no. 2
pp. 91 – 94


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The most common way to analyse heart rhythm is to calculate the RR-interval and the heart rate variability. For further evaluation, descriptive statistics are often used. Here we introduce a new and more natural heart rhythm analysis tool that is based on circular statistics and vector strength. Vector strength is a tool to measure the periodicity or lack of periodicity of a signal. We divide the signal into non-overlapping window segments and project the detected R-waves around the unit circle using the complex exponential function and the median RR-interval. In addition, we calculate the vector strength and apply circular statistics as wells as an angular histogram on the R-wave vectors. This approach enables an intuitive visualization and analysis of rhythmicity. Our results show that ECG-waves and rhythms can be easily visualized, analysed and classified by circular statistics and vector strength.