Autonomic cardiovascular control is critical in regulating blood pressure during postural transition, failure of which could lead to dizziness and fall (orthostatic intolerance). In this study, the feasibility of Ballistocardiography (BCG) for quantifying autonomic nervous system activity in relation to gold standard electrocardiogram (ECG) was tested.
Simultaneous ECG, blood pressure, photoplethysmography (PPG), and BCG were continuously acquired during 5-minutes of stand tests (before and after tilt test up to 60°) from 10 participants. Heart period was derived from ECG and BCG represented as RR and JJ intervals, respectively. Spectral analysis of heart period (both RR and JJ) was performed by calculating power distributed in low-frequency (0.04–0.15 Hz) and high-frequency (0.15–0.4 Hz) bands. Strong correlation (r > 0.87 for Pre-tilt and r > 0.97 for Post-tilt, p < 0.001) between ECG and BCG derived LF, HF, and LF/HF was observed, except for LF/HF (r > 0.63 for Pre-tilt). The Wilcoxon rank sum test revealed no difference (p > 0.10) in BCG or ECG LF, HF, and LF/HF during the two stand tests.
The findings of the study highlighted the feasibility of monitoring cardiovascular control via weight-scale BCG. Therefore, the developed system can gain utility as a portable and cost-effective system for early detection and mitigation of falls associated with autonomic dysfunction.