Automatic detection of abnormal heart rhythms, including atrial fibrillation (AF), using signals obtained from a single-lead wearable electrocardiogram (ECG) device, is useful for daily cardiac health monitoring. In this study, we propose a novel image-based deep learning framework to classify single-lead ECG recordings of short variable length into several different rhythms associated with arrhythmias. By transforming variable-length 1D ECG signals into fixed-size 2D time-morphology representations and feeding them to the beat–interval–texture convolutional neural network (BIT-CNN) model, we aimed to learn the comprehensible characteristics of beat shape and inter-beat patterns over time for arrhythmia classification. The proposed approach allows feature embedding vectors to provide interpretable time-morphology patterns focused at each step of the learning process. In addition, this method reduces the number of model parameters needed to be trained and aids visual interpretation, while maintaining similar performance to other CNN-based approaches to arrhythmia classification. For experiments, we used the PhysioNet/CinC Challenge 2017 dataset and achieved an overall F1_NAO
of 81.75% and F1_NAOP
of 76.87%, which are comparable to those of the state-of-the-art methods for variable-length ECGs.
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