Improved pulse transit time estimation by system identification analysis of proximal and distal arterial waveforms

Da Xu, Kathy L. Ryan, Caroline A. Rickards, Guanqun Zhang, Victor A. Convertino, Ramakrishna Mukkamala

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25 Scopus citations


We investigated the system identification approach for potentially improved estimation of pulse transit time (PTT), a popular arterial stiffness marker. In this approach, proximal and distal arterial waveforms are measured and respectively regarded as the input and output of a system. Next, the system impulse response is identified from all samples of the measured input and output. Finally, the time delay of the impulse response is detected as the PTT estimate. Unlike conventional foot-to-foot detection techniques, this approach is designed to provide an artifact robust estimate of the true PTT in the absence of wave reflection. The approach is also applicable to arbitrary types of arterial waveforms. We specifically applied a parametric system identification technique to noninvasive impedance cardiography (ICG) and peripheral arterial blood pressure waveforms from 15 humans subjected to lower-body negative pressure. We assessed the technique through the correlation coefficient (r) between its 1/PTT estimates and measured diastolic pressure (DP) per subject and the root mean squared error (RMSE) of the DP predicted from these estimates and measured DP. The technique achieved average r and RMSE values of 0.81 ± 0.16 and 4.3 ± 1.3 mmHg. For comparison, the corresponding values were 0.59 ± 0.37 (P < 0.05) and 5.9 ± 2.5 (P < 0.01) mmHg for the conventional technique applied to the same waveforms and 0.28 ± 0.40 (P < 0.001) and 7.2 ± 1.8 (P < 0.001) mmHg for the conventional technique with the ECG waveform substituted for the ICG waveform. These results demonstrate, perhaps for the first time, that the system identification approach can indeed improve PTT estimation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)H1389-H1395
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2011


  • Arterial blood pressure
  • Arterial stiffness
  • Foot-to-foot detection
  • Impulse response
  • Pulse wave velocity


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