PARIS – Researchers at the University of Manchester in the U.K. said they have built an advanced computational model of an anatomically correct heart to help answer questions about atrial fibrillation.
The research team, led by Professor Henggui Zhang, said the virtual heart includes details of the complex fiber structure of the tissue, and the segmentation of the upper chambers of the heart into known distinctive atrial regions.
A computation sheep atria model for the study of atrial fibrillation
The heart 3-D model was then used to explore the atrial fibrillation (AF), which occurs when abnormal impulses suddenly start firing in the upper chambers of the heart. These impulses override the heart's natural pacemaker, which can no longer control the rhythm of the heart. This desynchronizes the heart muscle contraction and reduces the heart’s efficiency and performance, Zhang said.
Researchers said they simulated erratic electrical waves passing through the vein and the surrounding atrial tissue and found that regional differences in the electrical activity across the tissue of the heart plays a major role in the initiation of AF. They also identified that the fiber structure of the heart is key to the development of AF.
"This study has for the first time identified the individual role of electrical heterogeneity and fiber structure in the initiation and development of AF," Professor Zhang declared. "It has not previously been possible to study the contribution of the two separately but using our computational model we’ve been able to clearly see that both electrical heterogeneity and fiber structure need to be taken into consideration when treatment strategies for AF are being devised."
The researchers said they now expect to find a way to target the electrical conduction in specific regions of the heart to better protect against AF. They also intend to use the 3-D heart to better understand AF and develop more effective treatments. See related links and articles:
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