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That Fractal Heartbeat

Fractology is based on science. Here we will be giving you just a brief taste of some different aspects of that science.

When the doctor takes your heart rate and blood pressure they are checking for indications of poor health. These are very rough measures and fractal analysis of the ECG (electrocardiogram – the electric readouts from the heart) is able to reveal information not available to such conventional means.

Fractal information is far more sensitive and is proving to be a more reliable indicator of the true health of our hearts. Our heart rhythms are fluctuating, non-stationary, and non-equilibrium in nature. It is part of a large feedback system with very complex dynamics, yet the data from the heart is still generally analysed in a linear and stationary way. Using fractal analysis of the data is a tremendous step forward. A number of researchers, most notably those at Harvard University in the USA, have found that fractal scaling is beneficial for monitoring both healthy and unwell individuals.

The heartbeat has a fractal complexity to it and it has been shown that when this complexity is lost there is an increasing risk of disease or heart attack. As the heartbeat becomes increasingly monotonous the risk increases. We could almost say the heart stops out of boredom.

If you would like more information on this topic a useful place to start is: http://www.physionet.org/tutorials/fmnc/node7.html