Simulations of the electrophysiological behavior of the heart improve the comprehension of the mechanisms of the cardiovascular system. Furthermore, the mathematical modeling will support diagnosis and therapy of patients suffering from heart diseases. In this paper, the chain of modeling of the electrical function in the heart is described. The components are explained briefly, namely modeling of cardiac geometry, reconstructing the cardiac electrophysiology and excitation propagation. Additionally, the mathematical methods allowing to implement and solve these models are outlined. The three recently more investigated cases atrial fibrillation, ischemia and long-QT syndrome are described and show how cardiac modeling can support cardiologists in answering their open questions.
Conference Contributions (3)
M. Wilhelms, O. Dössel, and G. Seemann. Simulating the Impact of the Transmural Extent of Acute Ischemia on the Electrocardiogram. In Computing in Cardiology, vol. 37, pp. 13-16, 2010
During acute cardiac ischemia, electrophysiological properties of the affected tissue are altered in the subendocardium firstly. If the occlusion worsens, the effects spread transmurally. Diagnosis of cardiac ischemia, which should be improved by computer simulations, is based on shifts of the ST segment. In this work, we simulated heterogeneous ischemic regions with varying transmural extent. The excitation propagation and ECGs were calculated for the different setups. We showed that ST segment polarity can be dependent on the transmural extent of the ischemic region. In case of subendocardial ischemia, short action potentials were initiated in the ischemic zone causing a slight transmural gradient of the transmembrane voltage. Therefore, the ST segment was depressed in leads near the ischemic region in the chosen case. During transmural ischemia, this gradient showed in the opposite direction from epicardium to endocardium leading to ST segment elevation.
M. Wilhelms, O. Dössel, G. Seemann, and M. Weiser. Benchmarking Solvers of the Monodomain Equation in Cardiac Electrophysiological Modeling. In Biomedizinische Technik / Biomedical Engineering, vol. 55(s1) , pp. 99-102, 2010
The monodomain model is a mathematical description of the electrical excitation propagation in the heart. The numerical solution of this reaction-diffusion equation is a computationally demanding task. Aspects that have to be considered are the accuracy and stability of the solution on the one hand and the computing time on the other hand. Two first order methods an explicit and a semi-implicit scheme solving the monodomain equation were compared in this work. For the benchmark of the solvers, three cell models with different computational complexity were used. Thus, the contribution of the solvers to the total computing time could be analyzed. Generally, if the same time step was used, the semi-implicit was slower than the explicit one, since an additional linear system of equations had to be solved. However, the semi-implicit solver was more accurate and showed better stability behavior than the explicit one, especially at high spatial resolutions. Therefore, larger time steps could be used, achieving the same accuracy and a shorter total computing time as the explicit solver. However, this effect was present only, if the additional calculations of the semi-implicit solver contributed less to the total computing time, i.e. the cell model had to be computationally complex.
Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a common pathology. AF modifies the electrophysiological properties of cells (remodeling) promoting the occurrence and maintenance of AF.Electrical remodeling includes changes in ICa,L, Ito, IK1 and IK,ACh. These effects were integrated in a human atrial computer model. Gap junction remodeling was considered in the conductivity of the monodomain equation calculating excitation. Specific features were calculated to determine the risk of AF initiation and perpetuation.ERP was reduced from 330ms to 103ms. CV was lowered from 755mm/s to 608mm/s. The WL reduction was even higher (from 249mm to 63mm) leading to a higher probability of occurrence and maintenance of AF. A maximum of 7 spirals waves were initiated leading to a peak in the power spectrum at 10.32Hz.The computer model underlines the relevance of remodeling in AF chronification. The results add to the knowledge of AF maintenance. Our model might prove to be a tool for the development of novel therapeutic strategies.