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The beat goes on: Modeling the human heart
Date:4/10/2013

tions for arrhythmia in order to predict a drug's pro- or anti-arrhythmic effects. But with heart models, that's possible.

Drug companies often test drugs at the cell level, which does not give as complete a picture as the whole-heart level, says Trayanova. Hence, Trayanova's team constructed a computational framework under which drug interactions with the whole heart can be studied. Their model focuses on the sodium channel, particularly sodium channel blockers, which are often used as drugs in arrhythmia treatments. The modeling of drug-channel interactions in order to determine the effects of drugs on electrical activity in the heart can help develop a drug-screening system for treatment applications.

Treatment of arrhythmias:

Trayanova's team also studies other methods to terminate arrhythmias using computational models.

Defibrillation

Atrial fibrillation or cardiac arrhythmia that occurs in the heart's upper chambersis a common form of arrhythmia. It is one of the most predominant diseases affecting our aging population. While it is not lethal, it is a major risk factor for stroke, and can be extremely unpleasant, says Trayanova.

A procedure that is often used by physicians to treat atrial fibrillation, called defibrillation, delivers an electric shock to the patient's heart, resetting it to a normal rhythm.

However, this process can be inconsistent. In some cases, the frequency or magnitude may be insufficient to block the arrhythmia, and the process fails. In addition, defibrillation that is currently used clinically is an extraordinarily painful process, says Trayanova. Hence, her lab has used models to come up with a new way to simultaneously defibrillate the heart while blocking nerve conduction in the nerves that carry pain, targeting them for pain suppression.

Cardiac Ablation

Another commonly-used procedure for terminating arrhythmias is cardiac a
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Contact: Karthika Muthukumaraswamy
karthika@siam.org
267-350-6383
Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics
Source:Eurekalert

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