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Volume 2018 (2018), Article ID 4801924, 14 pages
Research Article

Multifractal-Multiscale Analysis of Cardiovascular Signals: A DFA-Based Characterization of Blood Pressure and Heart-Rate Complexity by Gender

1IRCCS Fondazione Don C. Gnocchi, Milan, Italy
2Fondazione Don C. Gnocchi, Parma, Italy
3Department of Medicine and Surgery, University of Parma, Parma, Italy
4Department of Cardiology, Istituto Auxologico Italiano, Milan, Italy

Correspondence should be addressed to Paolo Castiglioni

Received 14 September 2017; Revised 27 November 2017; Accepted 17 December 2017; Published 22 January 2018

Academic Editor: Hugo L. Rufiner

Copyright © 2018 Paolo Castiglioni et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Detrended Fluctuation Analysis (DFA) is a popular method for assessing the fractal characteristics of biosignals, recently adapted for evaluating the heart-rate multifractal and/or multiscale characteristics. However, the existing methods do not consider the beat-by-beat sampling of heart rate and have relatively low scale resolutions and were not applied to cardiovascular signals other than heart rate. Therefore, aim of this work is to present a DFA-based method for joint multifractal/multiscale analysis designed to address the above critical points and to provide the first description of the multifractal/multiscale structure of interbeat intervals (IBI), systolic blood pressure (SBP), and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) in male and female volunteers separately. The method optimizes data splitting in blocks to reduce the DFA estimation variance and to evaluate scale coefficients with Taylor’s expansion formulas and maps the scales from beat domains to temporal domains. Applied to cardiovascular signals recorded in 42 female and 42 male volunteers, it showed that scale coefficients and degree of multifractality depend on the temporal scale, with marked differences between IBI, SBP, and DBP and with significant sex differences. Results may be interpreted considering the distinct physiological mechanisms regulating heart-rate and blood-pressure dynamics and the different autonomic profile of males and females.