Establishing A Baseline For Using Convolutional Neural Networks Classifying Heart Attacks From ECG Data

I recently read a paper in which the researchers were able to achieve up to ~90% sensitivity and specificity using a convolutional neural network. I tried to replicate their research, and I did not do as well. Despite using a similar architecture to the one presented in the paper, my models overfit big time.  The one thing I am aware of in their paper that I did not do is downsample my data, largely because I could not parse the method they used to smooth and reduce the size of their data. They linked to another paper for directions on downsampling the ekg data, but I am not a member of an academic institution, so I could not get access.

In the model that I am working on, I use layered inception modules like those used in the GoogLeNet Paper. I grid searched through models with every combination of the following:

  • layers: 1, 2, 4

  • Number of filters in tower of each layer: 30, 15

I trained each of these 6 models using a batch size of 50 and a learning rate of 0.001.  

The models with more than one layer all overfit to the training set.  For example, the model with the following parameters reached around 90% accuracy on the training set, but barely better than random on the validation set.

  • number of filters: 15

  • number of layers: 2


The single layer models did not overfit as much.  They still overfit though.  Here are the parameters and results for the best of these single layer models.

  • number of filters: 30

  • number of layers: 1


To improve on this work, I need to work hard on getting the overfitting under control.  Here are some options for doing that:

  • Augment my training dataset.  I could do that by slicing all of my samples in half again so that they are each 5 seconds long.  I could probably do that twice if necessary.  So long as I am only using a small portion (.15) of that data for validation, that would more than double the size of my training set for each round of augmentation.  I could also horizontally translate my data.

  • Simplify the model.  Right now I am using a several-layer deep ineption-module network.  I am doing this because I’m not sure what size filters to use or when to use pooling layers.  I admit that that is not the most advanced thinking about how to go about model architecture decisions.

  • Add drop out regularization in between the inception modules.  According the the AlexNet paper, his reduces “complex co-adaptions” between neurons, “since a neuron cannot rely on the presence of particular other neurons.” (AlexNet paper).