Fractal mechanisms and heart rate dynamics: Long-range correlations and their breakdown with disease

C. K. Peng, S. Havlin, J. M. Hausdorff, J. E. Mietus, H. E. Stanley, A. L. Goldberger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

286 Scopus citations


Under healthy conditions, the normal cardiac (sinus) interbeat interval fluctuates in a complex manner. Quantitative analysis using techniques adapted from statistical physics reveals the presence of long-range power-law correlations extending over thousands of heartbeats. This scale-invariant (fractal) behavior suggests that the regulatory system generating these fluctuations is operating far from equilibrium. In contrast, it is found that for subjects at high risk of sudden death (eg, congestive heart failure patients), these long-range correlations break down. Application of fractal scaling analysis and related techniques provides new approaches to assessing cardiac risk and forecasting sudden cardiac death, as well as motivating development of novel physiologic models of systems that appear to be heterodynamic rather than homeostatic

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-65
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Electrocardiology
StatePublished - 1995

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Partial support was provided to Dr. Peng by NIH/NIMH NRSA Postdoctoral Fellowship, to Dr. Hausdorff by NIA, to Drs. Stanley and HavEn by NSF, and to Dr. Goldberger by the G. Harold and Leila Y. Mathers Charitable Foundation, NIDA, and NASA.


  • cardiac interbeat interval
  • fluctuation
  • fractal scaling analysis
  • sudden cardiac death


Dive into the research topics of 'Fractal mechanisms and heart rate dynamics: Long-range correlations and their breakdown with disease'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this