Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
ISSN: 1303 - 2968   
Ios-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Androit-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
©Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2022) 21, 260 - 266   DOI:

Research article
RMSSD Is More Sensitive to Artifacts Than Frequency-Domain Parameters: Implication in Athletes’ Monitoring
Nicolas Bourdillon1,2, , Sasan Yazdani2, Jean-Marc Vesin3, Laurent Schmitt4, Grégoire P. Millet1
Author Information
1 Institute of Sport Sciences, University of Lausanne, 1015 Lausanne, Switzerland
2, SA, Renens, Switzerland
3 ASPG, Applied Signal Processing Group, EPFL, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, 1015 Lausanne, Switzerland
4 National Centre of Nordic-Ski, Research and Performance, Prémanon, France

Nicolas Bourdillon
✉ ISSUL, Institute of Sport Sciences, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland
Publish Date
Received: 01-10-2021
Accepted: 27-04-2022
Published (online): 01-06-2022
Share this article

Easy-to-use and accurate heart rate variability (HRV) assessments are essential in athletes’ follow-up, but artifacts may lead to erroneous analysis. Artifact detection and correction are the purpose of extensive literature and implemented in dedicated analysis programs. However, the effects of number and/or magnitude of artifacts on various time- or frequency-domain parameters remain unclear. The purpose of this study was to assess the effects of artifacts on HRV parameters. Root mean square of the successive differences (RMSSD), standard deviation of the normal to normal inter beat intervals (SDNN), power in the low- (LF) and high-frequency band (HF) were computed from two 4-min RR recordings in 178 participants in both supine and standing positions, respectively. RRs were modified by (1) randomly adding or subtracting 10, 30, 50 or 100 ms to the successive RRs; (2) a single artifact was manually inserted; (3) artifacts were automatically corrected from signal naturally containing artifacts. Finally, RR recordings were analyzed before and after automatic detection-correction of artifacts. Modifying each RR by 10, 30, 50 and 100 ms randomly did not significantly change HRV parameters (range -6%, +6%, supine). In contrast, by adding a single artifact, RMSSD increased by 413% and 269%, SDNN by 54% and 47% in supine and standing positions, respectively. LF and HF changed only between -3% and +8% (supine and standing) in the artifact condition. When more than 0.9% of the signal contained artifacts, RMSSD was significantly biased, whilst when more than 1.4% of the signal contained artifacts LF and HF were significantly biased. RMSSD and SDNN were more sensitive to a single artifact than LF and HF. This indicates that, when using RMSSD only, a single artifact may induce erroneous interpretation of HRV. Therefore, we recommend using both time- and frequency-domain parameters to minimize the errors in the diagnoses of health status or fatigue in athletes.

Key words: Artifact, frequency-domain, heart rate variability, noise, time-domain

           Key Points
  • RMSSD and SDNN are more sensitive to a single artifact than LF and HF
  • Modification of RR data points by 30 ms or less had negligible influence on RMSSD, SDNN, LF and HF
  • Automatic correction systems should focus on slight over-correction of RRs rather than leaving unresolved artifacts
  • Combining time- and frequency-domain analyses appears the wiser, safer and clinically most relevant way to use HRV
Home Issues About Authors
Contact Current Editorial board Authors instructions
Email alerts In Press Mission For Reviewers
Archive Scope
Supplements Statistics
Most Read Articles
  Most Cited Articles
JSSM | Copyright 2001-2022 | All rights reserved. | LEGAL NOTICES | Publisher

It is forbidden the total or partial reproduction of this web site and the published materials, the treatment of its database, any kind of transition and for any means, either electronic, mechanic or other methods, without the previous written permission of the JSSM.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.