OBJECTIVE: To assess the feasibility and accuracy of seizure detection based on heart rate variability (HRV) using a wearable electrocardiography (ECG) device. Noninvasive devices for detection of convulsive seizures (generalized tonic-clonic and focal to bilateral tonic-clonic seizures) have been validated in phase 2 and 3 studies. However, detection of nonconvulsive seizures still needs further research, since currently available methods have either low sensitivity or an extremely high false alarm rate (FAR).
METHODS: In this phase 2 study, we prospectively recruited patients admitted to long-term video-EEG monitoring (LTM). ECG was recorded using a dedicated wearable device. Seizures were automatically detected using HRV parameters computed off-line, blinded to all other data. We compared the performance of 26 automated algorithms with the seizure time-points marked by experts who reviewed the LTM recording. Patients were classified as responders if >66% of their seizures were detected.
RESULTS: We recruited 100 consecutive patients and analyzed 126 seizures (108 nonconvulsive and 18 convulsive) from 43 patients who had seizures during monitoring. The best-performing HRV algorithm combined a measure of sympathetic activity with a measure of how quickly HR changes occurred. The algorithm identified 53.5% of the patients with seizures as responders. Among responders, detection sensitivity was 93.1% (95% CI: 86.6%-99.6%) for all seizures and 90.5% (95% CI: 77.4%-97.3%) for nonconvulsive seizures. FAR was 1.0/24 h (0.11/night). Median seizure detection latency was 30 s. Typically, patients with prominent autonomic nervous system changes were responders: An ictal change of >50 heartbeats per minute predicted who would be responder with a positive predictive value of 87% and a negative predictive value of 90%.
SIGNIFICANCE: The automated HRV algorithm, using ECG recorded with a wearable device, has high sensitivity for detecting seizures, including the nonconvulsive ones. FAR was low during the night. This approach is feasible in patients with prominent ictal autonomic changes.