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Department of Medicine, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine; Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

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Biomedical Devices and Instrumentation | Cardiovascular Diseases | Health Information Technology


Sepsis is defined by life-threatening organ dysfunction during infection and is the leading cause of death in hospitals. During sepsis, there is a high risk that new onset of atrial fibrillation (AF) can occur, which is associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Consequently, early prediction of AF during sepsis would allow testing of interventions in the intensive care unit (ICU) to prevent AF and its severe complications. In this paper, we present a novel automated AF prediction algorithm for critically ill sepsis patients using electrocardiogram (ECG) signals. From the heart rate signal collected from 5-min ECG, feature extraction is performed using the traditional time, frequency, and nonlinear domain methods. Moreover, variable frequency complex demodulation and tunable Q-factor wavelet-transform-based time-frequency methods are applied to extract novel features from the heart rate signal. Using a selected feature subset, several machine learning classifiers, including support vector machine (SVM) and random forest (RF), were trained using only the 2001 Computers in Cardiology data set. For testing the proposed method, 50 critically ill ICU subjects from the Medical Information Mart for Intensive Care (MIMIC) III database were used in this study. Using distinct and independent testing data from MIMIC III, the SVM achieved 80% sensitivity, 100% specificity, 90% accuracy, 100% positive predictive value, and 83.33% negative predictive value for predicting AF immediately prior to the onset of AF, while the RF achieved 88% AF prediction accuracy. When we analyzed how much in advance we can predict AF events in critically ill sepsis patients, the algorithm achieved 80% accuracy for predicting AF events 10 min early. Our algorithm outperformed a state-of-the-art method for predicting AF in ICU patients, further demonstrating the efficacy of our proposed method. The annotations of patients' AF transition information will be made publicly available for other investigators. Our algorithm to predict AF onset is applicable for any ECG modality including patch electrodes and wearables, including Holter, loop recorder, and implantable devices.


annotations, atrial fibrillation, feature extraction, heart rate variability, prediction, random forest, sepsis

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Copyright © 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (

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Bashar SK, Ding EY, Walkey AJ, McManus DD, Chon KH. Atrial Fibrillation Prediction from Critically Ill Sepsis Patients. Biosensors (Basel). 2021 Aug 9;11(8):269. doi: 10.3390/bios11080269. PMID: 34436071; PMCID: PMC8391773. Link to article on publisher's site

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.