PhysioZoo: A Novel Open Access Platform for Heart Rate Variability Analysis of Mammalian Electrocardiographic Data

Front Physiol. 2018 Oct 4;9:1390. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2018.01390. eCollection 2018.


Background: The time variation between consecutive heartbeats is commonly referred to as heart rate variability (HRV). Loss of complexity in HRV has been documented in several cardiovascular diseases and has been associated with an increase in morbidity and mortality. However, the mechanisms that control HRV are not well understood. Animal experiments are the key to investigating this question. However, to date, there are no standard open source tools for HRV analysis of mammalian electrocardiogram (ECG) data and no centralized public databases for researchers to access. Methods: We created an open source software solution specifically designed for HRV analysis from ECG data of multiple mammals, including humans. We also created a set of public databases of mammalian ECG signals (dog, rabbit and mouse) with manually corrected R-peaks (>170,000 annotations) and signal quality annotations. The platform (software and databases) is called PhysioZoo. Results: PhysioZoo makes it possible to load ECG data and perform very accurate R-peak detection (F 1 > 98%). It also allows the user to manually correct the R-peak locations and annotate low signal quality of the underlying ECG. PhysioZoo implements state of the art HRV measures adapted for different mammals (dogs, rabbits, and mice) and allows easy export of all computed measures together with standard data representation figures. PhysioZoo provides databases and standard ranges for all HRV measures computed on healthy, conscious humans, dogs, rabbits, and mice at rest. Study of these measures across different mammals can provide new insights into the complexity of heart rate dynamics across species. Conclusion: PhysioZoo enables the standardization and reproducibility of HRV analysis in mammalian models through its open source code, freely available software, and open access databases. PhysioZoo will support and enable new investigations in mammalian HRV research. The source code and software are available on

Keywords: R-peak detection; animal models; electrocardiography; heart rate variability; power law.