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We present generalizations of our previously published artificial models for generating multi-channel ECG to provide simulations of abnormal cardiac rhythms. Using a three-dimensional vectorcardiogram (VCG) formulation, we generate the normal cardiac dipole for a patient using a sum of Gaussian kernels, fitted to real VCG recordings. Abnormal beats are specified either as perturbations to the normal dipole or as new dipole trajectories. Switching between normal and abnormal beat types is achieved using a first-order Markov chain. Probability transitions can be learned from real data or modeled by coupling to heart rate and sympathovagal balance. Natural morphology changes from beat-to-beat are incorporated by varying the angular frequency of the dipole as a function of the inter-beat (RR) interval. The RR interval time series is generated using our previously described model whereby time- and frequency-domain heart rate (HR) and heart rate variability characteristics can be specified. QT-HR hysteresis is simulated by coupling the Gaussian kernels associated with the T-wave in the model with a nonlinear factor related to the local HR (determined from the last n RR intervals). Morphology changes due to respiration are simulated by introducing a rotation matrix couple to the respiratory frequency. We demonstrate an example of the use of this model by simulating HR-dependent T-wave alternans (TWA) with and without phase-switching due to ectopy. Application of our model also reveals previously unreported effects of common TWA estimation methods.

Original publication




Journal article


Physiol meas

Publication Date





595 - 609


Arrhythmias, Cardiac, Electrocardiography, Heart Rate, Humans, Models, Cardiovascular