Electrocardiogram (ECG) signal has been commonly used to analyze the complexity of heart rate variability (HRV). For this, various entropy methods have been considerably of interest. The multiscale entropy (MSE) method, which makes use of the sample entropy (SampEn) calculation of coarse-grained time series, has attracted attention for analysis of HRV. However, the SampEn computation may fail to be defined when the length of a time series is not enough long. Recently, distribution entropy (DistEn) with improved stability for a short-term time series has been proposed. Here, we propose a novel multiscale DistEn (MDE) for analysis of the complexity of short-term HRV by utilizing a moving-averaging multiscale process and the DistEn computation of each moving-averaged time series. Thus, it provides an improved stability of entropy evaluation for short-term HRV extracted from ECG. To verify the performance of MDE, we employ the analysis of synthetic signals and confirm the superiority of MDE over MSE. Then, we evaluate the complexity of short-term HRV extracted from ECG signals of congestive heart failure (CHF) patients and healthy subjects. The experimental results exhibit that MDE is capable of quantifying the decreased complexity of HRV with aging and CHF disease with short-term HRV time series.
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