Python and the Tell-Tale Heart

I was browsing through SciPy documentation this evening and ran across a function in scipy.misc called electrocardiogram. What?!

It’s an actual electrocardiogram, sampled at 360 Hz. Presumably it’s included as convenient example data. Here’s a plot of the first five seconds.

ECG plot

I wrote a little code using it to turn the ECG into an audio file.

from numpy import int16, iinfo
from scipy.io.wavfile import write
from scipy.misc import electrocardiogram

def to_integer(signal):
    # Take samples in [-1, 1] then scale to 16-bit integers
    m = iinfo(int16).max
    M = max(abs(signal))
    return int16(signal*m/M)

ecg = electrocardiogram()
write("heartbeat.wav", 360, to_integer(ecg))

I had to turn the volume way up to hear it, and that made me think of Edgar Allan Poe’s story The Tell-Tale Heart.

I may be doing something wrong. According to the documentation for the write function, I shouldn’t need to convert the singal to integers. I should just be able to leave the signal as floating point and normalize it to [-1, 1] by dividing by the largest absolute value in the signal. But when I do that, the output file will not play.

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2 thoughts on “Python and the Tell-Tale Heart

  1. Hey I’m a doctor would like to do something with the EKGs that I need a good programmer to help me with even though I know python as a beginner.
    I want to do this as a project to advance the study of EKGs

  2. Hi,

    The signal is electrical signal, not phonocardiogram sound recording (sound recording of heart sounds). Hence not ideal for listening actually.

    Nevertheless, I recorded this signal without int16 conversion, beats are heard actually (you may increase sound level though).

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