Screening for obstructive sleep apnea by cyclic variation of heart rate

Junichiro Hayano, Eiichi Watanabe, Yuji Saito, Fumihiko Sasaki, Keisaku Fujimoto, Tetsuo Nomiyama, Kiyohiro Kawai, Itsuo Kodama, Hiroki Sakakibara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Citations (Scopus)


Background-Despite the adverse cardiovascular consequences of obstructive sleep apnea, the majority of patients remain undiagnosed. To explore an efficient ECG-based screening tool for obstructive sleep apnea, we examined the usefulness of automated detection of cyclic variation of heart rate (CVHR) in a large-scale controlled clinical setting. Methods and Results-We developed an algorithm of autocorrelated wave detection with adaptive threshold (ACAT). The algorithm was optimized with 63 sleep studies in a training cohort, and its performance was confirmed with 70 sleep studies of the Physionet Apnea-ECG database. We then applied the algorithm to ECGs extracted from all-night polysomnograms in 862 consecutive subjects referred for diagnostic sleep study. The number of CVHR per hour (the CVHR index) closely correlated (r>0.84) with the apnea-hypopnea index, although the absolute agreement with the apnea-hypopnea index was modest (the upper and lower limits of agreement, 21 per hour and =19 per hour) with periodic leg movement causing most of the disagreement (P<0.001). The CVHR index showed a good performance in identifying the patients with an apnea-hypopnea index >15 per hour (area under the receiver-operating characteristic curve, 0.913; 83% sensitivity and 88% specificity, with the predetermined cutoff threshold of CVHR index >15 per hour). The classification performance was unaffected by older age (>65 years) or cardiac autonomic dysfunction (SD of normal-to-normal R-R intervals over the entire length of recording <65 ms; area under the receiver-operating characteristic curve, 0.915 and 0.911, respectively). Conclusions-The automated detection of CVHR with the ACAT algorithm provides a powerful ECG-based screening tool for moderate-to-severe obstructive sleep apnea, even in older subjects and in those with cardiac autonomic dysfunction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64-72
Number of pages9
JournalCirculation: Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 02-2011
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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