Detection of atrial fibrillation using contactless facial video monitoring

Published:August 29, 2014DOI:


      It is estimated that 33.5 million people in the world have developed atrial fibrillation (AF), and an estimated 30% of patients with AF are unaware of their diagnosis (silent AF).


      The purpose of this study was to test a new technology for contactless detection of AF based on facial video recordings.


      The proposed technique uses a camera to record an individual’s face and extract the subtle beat-to-beat variations of skin color reflecting the cardiac pulsatile signal. In a group of adults referred for electrical cardioversion, we recorded the ECG and the video of the subjects’ face before and after electrical cardioversion. We extracted the beat-to-beat pulse rates expressed as pulses per minute (ppm) from the videoplethysmographic (VPG) signal acquired using a standard web camera. We introduce a novel quantifier of pulse variability called the pulse harmonic strength (PHS) and report its ability to detect the presence of AF.


      Eleven subjects (8 male; age 65 ± 6 years) were included in the study. The VPG and ECG-based rates were statistically different between the AF and sinus rhythm periods: 72 ± 9 ppm vs 57 ± 7 ppm (P < .0001) for VPG and 80 ± 17 bpm vs 56 ± 7 bpm (P < .0001) for ECG signals. Among the 407 epochs of 15 seconds of synchronized ECG and VPG signals, PHS was associated with a 20% detection error rate, and the error rates of the automatic ECG-based measurements ranged between 17% and 29%.


      Our preliminary results support the concept that contactless video-based monitoring of the human face for detection of abnormal pulse variability due to AF is feasible.


      AF (atrial fibrillation), CER (classification error rate), ECG (electrocardiogram), PHS (pulse harmonic strength), pNN50 (percentage of consecutive RR intervals that differ by 50 ms), PR (pulse rate), RMSSD (root mean square differences of intervals), ROC (receiver operating characteristic), SD1 (standard deviation of the minor axis of the Lorenz plot), SD2 (standard deviation of the major axis of the Lorenz plot), SDRR (standard deviation of RR intervals from ECG and peak interval from the pulsatile signal), SE (standard errors), SR (sinus rhythm), VPC (ventricular premature contraction), VPG (videoplethysmography)


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