Creating Cardiac Conduction Model

It is a well known fact that the human heart uses electrical currents in order to keep the cardiac muscles pumping in time. The current it taken to the muscle cells by conducting cells which pass the current through the heart to the correct places. The sinoatrial node is the originator of the signal which then moves to activate the atria and then the ventricles.

Diagram of the heart with conduction system shown, thank you to Madhero88 on Wikipedia for producing this diagram. (Various collections of cells are shown and named, they each have unique jobs but are irrelevant here)

Now I actually have been diagnosed with having first degree heart block, which is so minor it doesn’t even cause noticeable bradycardia (slowing of heart beat). This means that the due to a lack of conductivity in my heart there is a slight delay between the contraction of the atria and the ventricles although not enough to have any noticeable adverse effects. For others though, it can be a lot more serious. Cardiovascular diseased cause the highest number of deaths in the world according to the World Health Organisation (WHO?), with many of these being caused by arrhythmias.

Now when a heart changes in any way, whether it be exercise or disease, this is called ventricular remodelling. The gradual changes that overtake the heart when a person is suffering from a cardiac disease cannot be observed and is difficult to study in patients. In order to try and solve this problem, a mathematical model which describes the cell and tissue growth within the heart was recently developed. This model was made specifically to imitate the results from cell cultures but cardiac cell cultures are well expected to replicate the conditions found within a real heart. All together it was found that these models could accurately and quantitatively predict cardiac cell shapes and determine their elongations along substrates. The data produced matched well with the experimental data and also showed promise for predicting the electrical signal inhomogeneity which the diseases produce.

Paper links: Virtual cardiac monolayers for electrical wave propagation


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s