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The mathematics of a heart beat could save lives
Date:2/17/2012

the heart. When blood needs to be pumped more quickly for instance during exercise the smaller chambers of the heart contribute to the contraction. This is known as the atrial kick.

As we age or when something is wrong with our heart such as atrial fibrillation the atrial muscle cells start to deteriorate. As a result we lose the support of the atrial kick. Atrial fibrillation constitutes the most common form of cardiac arrhythmia irregular heart beat.

The role of calcium in keeping our heart fit

Several experimental studies have revealed that to trigger contraction in atrial muscle cells the calcium concentration follows an elaborate choreography which shows different concentration values in different parts of the cell. This is in contrast to ventricular cells where the calcium concentration is almost entirely uniform throughout the cell.

In order to fully understand atrial calcium dynamics we need to be able to monitor the atrial cell in its entirety. Unfortunately this is currently beyond even the best state-of-the-art experimental technology. Moreover, experimental manipulations of cells usually interfere with more than one cellular control mechanism making it harder to tease apart the contributions of different pathways. Therefore, developing cutting edge models of atrial cellular behaviour is crucial to our understanding.

New mathematical model could save lives

Dr Thul said: "The strength of our model is that we can study the intracellular calcium concentration throughout the whole volume of the atrial muscle cell at the same time. This allows for a detailed exploration of the spatio-temporal calcium patterns associated with both healthy and pathological conditions.

"Moreover, we can selectively activate, deactivate, over or under express cellular properties and see how they shape the calcium patterns. Hence, we can deduce which conditions give rise to abnormalities and migh
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Contact: Lindsay Brooke
lindsay.brooke@nottingham.ac.uk
44-011-595-15751
University of Nottingham
Source:Eurekalert

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