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The baroreflex is the physiological control system linking blood pressure and heart rate. Baroreflex gain, alpha, can be estimated from the ratio of heart rate and blood pressure spectra. The aim of this study was to quantify differences in estimates of alpha incurred by using four different spectral analysis techniques. ECG and blood pressure were recorded from 10 healthy subjects. Spectra were estimated using fast Fourier transform (FFT), zero-padded FFT (FFTZ), FFT of the windowed autocovariance function (ACVF), and maximum-entropy (ME) methods. For each subject a mean value of alpha was calculated in the MF (0.05-0.15 Hz) and HF (0.15-0.35 Hz) bands. Mean alpha MF varied between subjects (range 2-10 ms mmHg-1) as did mean alpha HF (range 4-12 ms mmHg-1). Mean differences in alpha MF and alpha HF estimated with different techniques were small. Differences in alpha MF ranged from 0.074 ms mmHg-1 (FFTZ against ME) to 0.298 ms mmHg-1 (FFT against ACVF) and those in alpha HF ranged from 0.057 ms mmHg-1 (FFT against FFTZ) to 0.342 ms mmHg-1 (ACVF against ME). None of these differences were significant. The use of different spectral analysis techniques does not significantly affect estimates of alpha.


Journal article


Physiol Meas

Publication Date





131 - 139


Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Algorithms, Baroreflex, Blood Pressure, Electrocardiography, Female, Fourier Analysis, Heart Rate, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted