Theory and Developments in an Unobtrusive Cardiovascular System Representation: Ballistocardiography

Eduardo Pinheiro*, Octavian Postolache , Pedro Girão
Instituto de Telecomunicações, Instituto Superior Técnico, Torre Norte piso 10, Av. Rovisco Pais 1, 1049-001, Lisboa, Portugal

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© Pinheiro et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Instituto de Telecomunicações, Instituto Superior Técnico, Torre Norte piso 10, Av. Rovisco Pais 1, 1049-001, Lisboa, Portugal; Tel: +351 21 841 84 54; Fax: +351 21 841 84 72; E-mail:


Due to recent technological improvements, namely in the field of piezoelectric sensors, ballistocardiography – an almost forgotten physiological measurement – is now being object of a renewed scientific interest.

Transcending the initial purposes of its development, ballistocardiography has revealed itself to be a useful informative signal about the cardiovascular system status, since it is a non-intrusive technique which is able to assess the body’s vibrations due to its cardiac, and respiratory physiological signatures.

Apart from representing the outcome of the electrical stimulus to the myocardium – which may be obtained by electrocardiography – the ballistocardiograph has additional advantages, as it can be embedded in objects of common use, such as a bed or a chair. Moreover, it enables measurements without the presence of medical staff, factor which avoids the stress caused by medical examinations and reduces the patient’s involuntary psychophysiological responses.

Given these attributes, and the crescent number of systems developed in recent years, it is therefore pertinent to revise all the information available on the ballistocardiogram’s physiological interpretation, its typical waveform information, its features and distortions, as well as the state of the art in device implementations.

Keywords: Ballistocardiography, biomedical measurements, cardiac signal analysis, cardiovascular system monitoring, unobtrusive instrumentation..