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Frequency and Time Domain Analysis of Foetal Heart Rate Variability with Traditional Indexes: A Critical Survey
Monitoring of foetal heart rate and its variability (FHRV) covers an important role in assessing health of foetus. Many analysis methods have been used to get quantitative measures of FHRV. FHRV has been studied in time and in frequency domain and interesting clinical results have been obtained. Nevertheless, a standardized definition of FHRV and a precise methodology to be used for its evaluation are lacking. We carried out a literature overview about both frequency domain analysis (FDA) and time domain analysis (TDA). Then, by using simulated FHR signals, we defined the methodology for FDA. Further, employing more than 400 real FHR signals, we analysed some of the most common indexes, Short Term Variability for TDA and power content of the spectrum bands and sympathovagal balance for FDA, and evaluated their ranges of values, which in many cases are a novelty. Finally, we verified the relationship between these indexes and two important parameters: week of gestation, indicator of foetal growth, and foetal state, classified as active or at rest. Our results indicate that, according to literature, it is necessary to standardize the procedure for FHRV evaluation and to consider week of gestation and foetal state before FHR analysis.
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