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IEEE Eng Med Biol Mag. 1992 Jun;11(2):47-52.

Fractal mechanisms in the electrophysiology of the heart.

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Cardiovascular Division, Harvard Medical School, USA.
Harvard Med Sch, Boston, Cardiovascular Div


The mathematical concept of fractals provides insights into complex anatomic branching structures that lack a characteristic (single) length scale, and certain complex physiologic processes, such as heart rate regulation, that lack a single time scale. Heart rate control is perturbed by alterations in neuro-autonomic function in a number of important clinical syndromes, including sudden cardiac death, congestive failure, cocaine intoxication, fetal distress, space sickness and physiologic aging. These conditions are associated with a loss of the normal fractal complexity of interbeat interval dynamics. Such changes, which may not be detectable using conventional statistics, can be quantified using new methods derived from "chaos theory."

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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