Background: Heart signals represent an important way to evaluate cardiovascular function and often what is desired is to quantify the level of some signal of interest against the louder backdrop of the beating of the heart itself. An example of this type of application is the quantification of cavitation in mechanical heart valve patients.
Methods: An algorithm is presented for the quantification of high-frequency, non-deterministic events such as cavitation from recorded signals. A closed-form mathematical analysis of the algorithm investigates its capabilities. The algorithm is implemented on real heart signals to investigate usability and implementation issues. Improvements are suggested to the base algorithm including aligning heart sounds, and the implementation of the Short-Time Fourier Transform to study the time evolution of the energy in the signal. Results: The improvements result in better heart beat alignment and better detection and measurement of the random events in the heart signals, so that they may provide a method to quantify non-deterministic events in heart signals. The use of the Short-Time Fourier Transform allows the examination of the random events in both time and frequency allowing for further investigation and interpretation of the signal. Conclusions: The presented algorithm does allow for the quantification of non-deterministic events but proper care in signal acquisition and processing must be taken to obtain meaningful results.
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