Age-related changes in pulse risetime measured by multi-site photoplethysmography

John Allen, John O'Sullivan, Gerard Stansby, Alan Murray

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    18 Citations (Scopus)
    42 Downloads (Pure)


    OBJECTIVE: It is accepted that changes in the peripheral pulse waveform characteristics occur with ageing. Pulse risetime is one important feature which has clinical value. However, it is unclear how it varies across the full age spectrum from child to senior and for different peripheral measurement sites. The objectives of this study were to determine the association between age and pulse risetime characteristics over an 8-decade age range at the ears, fingers, and toes, and to consider effects arising from differences in systolic blood pressure (SBP), height and heart rate. APPROACH: Multi-site photoplethysmography (MPPG) pulse waveforms were recorded non-invasively from the right and left ears, fingers, and toes of 304 normal healthy human subjects (range 6-87 years; 156 male and 148 female). SBP, height, and heart rate were also measured. Multi-site PPG pulse risetimes, and their site differences, were determined. MAIN RESULTS: Univariate regression analysis showed positive correlations with risetime for age (ears, fingers and toes: + 0.8, + 1.9, and + 1.1 ms/year, respectively), SBP (+0.5, + 1.3, and + 0.9 ms/mmHg) and height (+0.5, + 1.2, and + 1.0 ms/cm), but with a clear inverse association with heart rate (-1.8, - 2.5, and - 1.6 ms min) (P < 0.0001). No significant differences between male and female subjects were found for pulse risetime. SIGNIFICANCE: Normative multi-site PPG risetime characteristics have been defined in over 300 subjects and are shown to increase with age linearly up to the 8th decade. In contrast, we have shown that heart rate has a clear inverse relationship with risetime for all measurement sites.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number074001
    Number of pages9
    JournalPhysiological Measurement
    Issue number7
    Early online date3 Aug 2020
    Publication statusPublished - 2020

    Bibliographical note

    Original content from this work may be used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license. Any further distribution of this work must maintain attribution to the author(s) and the title of the work, journal citation and DOI.


    • Photoplethysmography
    • Pulse
    • Ageing

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Physiology (medical)
    • Biophysics
    • Physiology
    • Biomedical Engineering


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