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Validation of a low intrusiveness heart rate sensor for stress assessment

Lopes, T. ; Almeida, P. Almeida ; Silva Cunha, J. P. C. ; Aguiar, A.

Biomedical Physics and Engineering Express Vol. 3, Nº 1, pp. 1 - 8, January, 2017.

ISSN (print): 2057-1976
ISSN (online):

Scimago Journal Ranking: 0,20 (in 2017)

Digital Object Identifier: 10.1088/2057-1976/3/1/017004

Heart rate variability (HRV analysis has been used as a quantitative marker of the autonomous nervous system activity to measure mental stress. Wearable sensors have been emerging as a solution to collect HRV data for stress assessment in a real context, however such studies raise additional requirements. The wearable system must be minimally obtrusive to allow the subjects to perform their tasks without interference, and inconspicuous to avoid the anxiety associated with wearing medical devices in public. The purpose of this study was to quantify the accuracy trade-off in the use of a chest band heart rate sensor that is less intrusive and less costly than a wearable electrocardiogram (ECG). The HRV metrics extracted from a chest band heart rate monitor, Zephyr HxMTM (ZphTM), were compared with those extracted from an ECG certified medical device, Vital JacketTM (VJTM). The two systems were worn simultaneously under laboratory conditions by a population of 14 young and healthy subjects, aged 20 to 26 years, under the stress induced by the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST) procedure. The results showed a mean difference between RR intervals of 9 ms; a root-mean square error (RMSE) of less than 8% and a Pearson's correlation higher than 0.946, considering all TSST phases. In the HRV analysis, the average of all normal intervals (AVNN) showed errors less than 2% between the two systems with a correlation higher than 0.99 for all TSST phases. We thus conclude that the used chest band sensor represents an alternative to the current wearable medical devices to monitor RR intervals, and could be used for mental stress monitoring similar to the TSST protocol.