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Photoplethysmography based atrial fibrillation detection: a review.


Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a cardiac rhythm disorder associated with increased morbidity and mortality. It is the leading risk factor for cardioembolic stroke and its early detection is crucial in both primary and secondary stroke prevention. Continuous monitoring of cardiac rhythm is today possible thanks to consumer-grade wearable devices, enabling transformative diagnostic and patient management tools. Such monitoring is possible using low-cost easy-to-implement optical sensors that today equip the majority of wearables. These sensors record blood volume variations-a technology known as photoplethysmography (PPG)-from which the heart rate and other physiological parameters can be extracted to inform about user activity, fitness, sleep, and health. Recently, new wearable devices were introduced as being capable of AF detection, evidenced by large prospective trials in some cases. Such devices would allow for early screening of AF and initiation of therapy to prevent stroke. This review is a summary of a body of work on AF detection using PPG. A thorough account of the signal processing, machine learning, and deep learning approaches used in these studies is presented, followed by a discussion of their limitations and challenges towards clinical applications.

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