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Dangerous arrhythmia analyzed in a heartbeat
Date:9/1/2011

Just one second, one heartbeat.

That's what is needed for a new, noninvasive functional imaging technology to record data for locating the source in the heart of a dangerous cardiac arrhythmia called ventricular tachycardia (VT).

VT is an abnormal, fast beating of the heart, which, if ignored, can lead to ventricular fibrillation, which causes some 400,000 cases of sudden death yearly in the United States alone.

The technique, developed by a Washington University in St. Louis scientist, is called Electrocardiographic Imaging (ECGI). It combines computerized tomography (CT) with 250 electrocardiograms recorded by electrodes placed on a vest across a patient's torso to map the source and pattern of VT in the heart and determine the kind of VT irregularity.

Using a special algorithm, ECGI can generate movies of the distinctive VT excitation waves, radiating like the wake caused by a pebble dropped into a pool, or rotating like a tornado, from recordings of multiple heartbeats.

While a wealth of information can be deduced from ECGI analysis of just one heartbeat, multiple heartbeats up to minutes long are often imaged to reveal even more about the nature of the arrhythmia.

Yoram Rudy, PhD, the Fred Saigh Distinguished Professor of Engineering, professor of biomedical engineering and of medicine and director of the Cardiac Bioelectricity and Arrhythmia Center (CBAC) at WUSTL, developed ECGI, first publishing on the technique in 2004.

Now, publishing in the Aug. 31, 2011, issue of Science Translational Medicine, Rudy and his collaborators in the Washington University departments of biomedical engineering and medicine, report the first systematic study of 25 cardiology patients with VT using ECGI to map noninvasively, beat by beat, the mechanisms and processes of VT in humans.

Co-authors WUSTL's Yong Wang, PhD, postdoctoral research associate in radiology who was a PhD student in Rudy's biomed
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Contact: Diana Lutz
dlutz@wustl.edu
314-935-5272
Washington University in St. Louis
Source:Eurekalert  

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