Author(s): Stranieri A
OBJECTIVE: This article addresses the problem of determining optimal sequences of tests for the clinical assessment of cardiac autonomic neuropathy (CAN). We investigate the accuracy of using only one of the recommended Ewing tests to classify CAN and the additional accuracy obtained by adding the remaining tests of the Ewing battery. This is important as not all five Ewing tests can always be applied in each situation in practice.
METHODS AND MATERIAL: We used new and unique database of the diabetes screening research initiative project, which is more than ten times larger than the data set used by Ewing in his original investigation of CAN. We utilized decision trees and the optimal decision path finder (ODPF) procedure for identifying optimal sequences of tests.
RESULTS: We present experimental results on the accuracy of using each one of the recommended Ewing tests to classify CAN and the additional accuracy that can be achieved by adding the remaining tests of the Ewing battery. We found the best sequences of tests for cost-function equal to the number of tests. The accuracies achieved by the initial segments of the optimal sequences for 2, 3 and 4 categories of CAN are 80.80, 91.33, 93.97 and 94.14, and respectively, 79.86, 89.29, 91.16 and 91.76, and 78.90, 86.21, 88.15 and 88.93. They show significant improvement compared to the sequence considered previously in the literature and the mathematical expectations of the accuracies of a random sequence of tests. The complete outcomes obtained for all subsets of the Ewing features are required for determining optimal sequences of tests for any cost-function with the use of the ODPF procedure. We have also found two most significant additional features that can increase the accuracy when some of the Ewing attributes cannot be obtained.
CONCLUSIONS: The outcomes obtained can be used to determine the optimal sequences of tests for each individual cost-function by following the ODPF procedure. The results show that the best single Ewing test for diagnosing CAN is the deep breathing heart rate variation test. Optimal sequences found for the cost-function equal to the number of tests guarantee that the best accuracy is achieved after any number of tests and provide an improvement in comparison with the previous ordering of tests or a random sequence.