Using photoplethysmography in heart rate monitoring of patients with epilepsy

Judith van Andel*, Constantin Ungureanu, Ronald Aarts, Frans Leijten, Johan Arends

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Heart rate is a useful neurophysiological sign when monitoring seizures in patients with epilepsy. In an ambulatory setting, heart rate is measured with ECG involving electrodes on the skin. This method is uncomfortable which is burdensome for patients and is sensitive to motion artifacts, which decrease the usability of measurements. In this study, green light photoplethysmography, an optical technique arising from the fitness industry, was evaluated for usefulness in a medical setting. Simultaneous overnight measurements of HR with a commercially available optical heart rate (OHR) sensor and with ECG (HRECG) were performed in 7 patients with epilepsy. Overall, there was no significant difference between OHR and HRECG in random 10-minute periods during wakefulness (p. = 0.69) and sleep (p. = 1.00). The Bland-Altman analysis showed negligible mean differences. Limits of agreement were higher during wakefulness and during the occurrence of two seizures possibly because of less reliable HRECG measurements due to motion artifacts. Optical heart rate seems less sensitive to these motion artifacts, and measurements are more user-friendly. The optical heart rate sensor may fill the gap of systems for ambulatory heart rate monitoring and can be especially useful in the context of seizure detection in patients with epilepsy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)142-145
Number of pages4
JournalEpilepsy & Behavior
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2015


  • Ambulatory monitoring
  • ECG
  • Epilepsy
  • Heart rate
  • Photoplethysmography
  • Seizure detection


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