Beth Israel Medical Center NY

Computational Physics of the Heart: from normal rhythm to spiral waves. 

Flavio H. Fenton

Abstract: Spiral waves of electrical activity in mammalian cardiac tissue haveb
become a major focus of research because of their central role in
 arrhythmogenesis. Experiments using voltage-sensitive dyes have shown that
 many dangerous arrhythmias occur because of the presence of reentrant
 waves (spiral waves) of electrical activity. When a single spiral wave is
 present, the resulting fast heartbeat is known as tachycardia. When a
 single spiral wave becomes unstable and breaks down into many waves,
 tachycardia generally transforms into lethal fibrillation.

 This talk will provide a brief introduction to cardiac electrophysiology
 and mathematical models for cell dynamics and will focus in particular on
 how these models are used in the context of complex systems and excitable
 media to study reentrant waves in cardiac tissue. Several mechanisms that
 can destabilize spiral waves and produce spiral wave breakup will be
 discussed along with electrophysiological characteristics of cardiac
 tissue that can be associated with these mechanisms. Examples of
 experiments and simulations ranging from isolated cells to anatomically
 realistic three-dimensional hearts will be shown.