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A 'LEAP' in controlling cardiac fibrillation
Date:7/14/2011

catheter the researchers create a sequence of five weak electrical signals in the heart. "Only a few seconds later, the heart beats regularly again", says Luther describing the team's newest results.

Even though LEAP and standard defibrillation seem to work similarly at first sight, they initiate completely different processes within the heart. "The classic defibrillator works by using a very strong electric field that excites all cells of the organ. In contrast, LEAP uses low-energy pulses to synchronize the tissue", says Fenton. For a short moment they can no longer transmit any electrical signals; the chaotic activity is terminated. "Afterwards, the heart resumes its normal, regular beating. The situation can be compared to turning a malfunctioning computer off and on again," says Robert Gilmour from Cornell University.

The new method terminates the turbulent electric activity within the heart step by step. "Our most important allies are natural heterogeneities within the heart such as blood vessels, fatty tissue or fibrotic tissue", says Eberhard Bodenschatz from the Max Planck Institute. In experiments and computer simulations the researchers were able to show that these heterogeneities can act as the origins for synchronizing waves. "Quite weak electrical pulses suffice to stimulate the cells in these regions", says Alain Pumir from Lyon. With every additional pulse more heterogeneities are activated thus gradually suppressing chaotic activity. "The heterogeneities act as small control sites that once activated can "reprogram" the entire organ", adds Valentin Krinsky from Nice.

In principle, the results also apply for defibrillation of ventricular fibrillation, a life-threatening arrhythmia, which is terminated only by external and implantable defibrillators. For a large number of patients wearing implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICD) the new technique may eliminate pain, improve the success rate of treatment, prolong bat
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Contact: Dr. Birgit Krummheuer
birgit.krummheuer@ds.mpg.de
49-551-517-6668
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert  

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A 'LEAP' in controlling cardiac fibrillation
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