"This coupling is crucial to the initiation of fibrillation," he says. Indicating how the electrical impulses move in a healthy heart, in a synchronized ordered manner, he compares that to a diseased heart, where electric coupling is scattered and irregular and the impulses break into chaotic local "tornados."
"Abnormal electrical activity causes the heart to contract abnormally," he says. Working with his colleagues at the University of Michigan, Dr. Zlochiver is working to repair hearts in real patients at risk prophylactically, so that electrical coupling signals in diseased hearts resemble a more organized, "tornado-free" pattern.
Fixing a Broken Heart by Email
Dr. Zlochiver's research will no doubt alter the way cardiac arrest is diagnosed and treated. "If we get an image from an MRI or CT from the inside of the heart, we can build a mathematical model and simulate electrical activity. That way, we can identify the problem point and stop fibrillation," he says.
"We can use the knowledge of the electrical activity and the interaction between cells in order to give ideas on treatment. Physicians will have a better idea on how to treat specific patients. For example, physicians will be able to locally ablate or release drugs in cardiac areas that are especially susceptible to fibrillation."
In the future, Dr. Zlochiver hopes that doctors will be able to send in scans of their patients' hearts and the models he creates from the scans would help guide decisions on treatment.
Dr. Zlochiver, a recipient of a 2007 award from the American Heart Association for his work, is one of 23 bright new faculty recruits to Tel Aviv University.
|Contact: George Hunka|
American Friends of Tel Aviv University