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Widely developed for clinical screening, electrocardiogram (ECG) recordings capture the cardiac electrical activity from the body surface. ECG analysis can therefore be a crucial first step to help diagnose, understand and predict cardiovascular disorders responsible for 30% of deaths worldwide. Computational techniques, and more specifically machine learning techniques and computational modelling are powerful tools for classification, clustering and simulation, and they have recently been applied to address the analysis of medical data, especially ECG data. This review describes the computational methods in use for ECG analysis, with a focus on machine learning and 3D computer simulations, as well as their accuracy, clinical implications and contributions to medical advances. The first section focuses on heartbeat classification and the techniques developed to extract and classify abnormal from regular beats. The second section focuses on patient diagnosis from whole recordings, applied to different diseases. The third section presents real-time diagnosis and applications to wearable devices. The fourth section highlights the recent field of personalized ECG computer simulations and their interpretation. Finally, the discussion section outlines the challenges of ECG analysis and provides a critical assessment of the methods presented. The computational methods reported in this review are a strong asset for medical discoveries and their translation to the clinical world may lead to promising advances.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of the Royal Society, Interface

Publication Date





Department of Computer Science, British Heart Foundation, Oxford, UK