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

represents these fibrotic regions. Through these models, the group has shown that the coupling of fibroblasts with myocytes (two different cell types in the heart) can lead to changes in ion channel activity leading to arrhythmias.

Other applications:

Another clinical application for these computational models could be to remedy misidentification of arrhythmia. In many cases, patients are needlessly implanted with defibrillators, as seen from the observation that only five percent of these patients experience a subsequent arrhythmia triggering activation of the device. Trayanova's team is using models to make predictions on which patients are at high risk for arrhythmia, and thus need defibrillators.

An exciting new technique that is being considered for cardiac therapies is optogenetics, a procedure that can stimulate heart muscle cells with low-energy light. This is achieved by coupling donor cells optimized for light responsiveness with heart cells. Using an electromechanical heart model, Trayanova's group has shown that if such light sensitivity is expressed in the Purkinje system, the network of fibers that cause synchronized contraction in the heart's lower chambers, the threshold for stimulating the heart with light is much lower. Leveraging computational simulations to design and conceptualize new techniques such as this is exciting, because it raises the potential of using light instead of electrical shock for defibrillation.

Trayanova's group is working on bringing these simulations and models to the clinic. Several projects are already underway where models are being integrated into clinical practice. "We want to translate these models for clinical care," she said. "To use them routinely in a personalized way to help patients and to administer the best therapy."

In a very engaging plenary lecture, Dr. Trayanova described how computationally-simulated hearts can be used to not only detect and treat hea
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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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