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Childhood prognosis of heart disease in later life

Heart diseases are one of the major causes of death in the western world.

Research is under way in the University of Leicester Engineering Department, in collaboration with The Leicester Royal Infirmary, to analyse the heart rate variability of 10 year- old children, in an attempt to identify heart diseases at an early stage.

The detection of heart diseases in early life will give us a better understanding of the way we live, eat, and do sports. Eventually a healthier lifestyle can be recommended for a longer healthier life.

The study involved a set of 24-hour ECG data from 75 children, 41 of whom were diagnosed as intrauterine growth restricted (IUGR) and 34 as normal.

Heart rate variability measures were obtained from the data and many signal processing and mathematical methods were used to identify any abnormalities. Other data were available, such as gender, parental smoking, breast feeding, gestational period, body mass index, deprivation index, day and night blood pressure and many other factors.

Taher Biala, a postgraduate researcher working on the project commented: “The research so far has given us a better understanding of the heart rate variability and consequently the function of the autonomic nervous system.

“The relaxed mode of the heart (parasympathetic tone) can be easily identified at night time when the heart rate decreases. In the day time the sympathetic tone is dominant and heart rate increases due to different activities of the subject.”

Factors such as gender, body mass index, and deprivation index were found to be an important factor in this study. Male children have a more relaxed heart beat (a stronger parasympathetic tone) than females and an associated lower heart rate.

A lower body mass index is positively correlated with a lower heart rate. With regard to deprivation index (social class) it was found that there is a significant difference between the two groups under study.

Taher A.Biala BSc (Electrical & Electronics), MSc. Before commencing his Phd, he was a lecturer at the Higher Institute of Medical Technology, Misurata / Libya. His current research interest is signal processing of physiological data such as ECG.

The research is being presented to the public at the University of Leicester on Thursday 26th June. The Festival of Postgraduate Research introduces employers and the public to the next generation of innovators and cutting-edge researchers, and gives postgraduate researchers the opportunity to explain the real world implications of their research to a wide ranging audience.

More information about the Festival of Postgraduate Research is available at:

Ather Mirza | alfa
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