According to the National Institute of Health, when abnormal electrical activity causes the heart to beat too quickly, too slowly, or erratically, the condition is called an arrhythmia.
Although most arrhythmias are harmless, some can interfere with the heart’s ability to pump blood.
Despite advances in medical imaging, the mechanisms leading to the irregular contractions of the heart during heart rhythm disorders remain poorly understood.
In a study from the University of Göttingen, scientists found that existing data from ultrasound imaging can be used to work backward to reconstruct the underlying electrical causes of arrhythmias.
The heart wall is pretty thick, and current imaging can’t see through it.
Cardiologists can only map the surface of the heart by inserting catheters into a patient’s heart, and it’s currently impossible to measure the electric activity deep within and throughout the heart muscle all at once.
However, to better locate possible origins of heart rhythm disorders, cardiologists need to be able to look deeper into the tissue.
To help overcome this obstacle, the team tested a computational approach to see if it would be possible to extract information about the electrical activity within the heart without directly observing it but inferring it from the heart’s mechanical deformations.
They believe the approach could be combined with ultrasound or MRI imaging.
The researchers made computer models of two systems interacting with each other – one representing a piece of a heart wall with a rhythm disorder and the other representing a virtual heart.
In the virtual heart, the electrical activity is carefully adjusted so it starts to deform in the same way as the arrhythmic heart.
Similar approaches have been used in computer weather predictions, in which measurement data from weather stations is assimilated by computer models.
By studying the mechanical characteristics of the two heart models, the researchers found they were able to reconstruct the initial electrical wave patterns almost exactly in the arrhythmic heart.
Applied to a heart, this means studying mechanical cardiac behavior — such as the contractions and deformations that characterize arrhythmias — may reveal information about the electrical activity within the heart previously out of reach.
Though the work has only been tested in computer simulations so far, the researchers anticipate the reconstruction approach can soon be applied when imaging patients.
They then hope to apply the reconstruction technique to estimate the abnormal electrical patterns throughout the heart.
If you care about heart health, please read studies about best time to take vitamins to prevent heart disease, and this gland problem in your neck is linked to stroke and heart attack.
For more information about heart health, please see recent studies that vitamin K2 could help reduce heart disease risk, and results showing flu and COVID-19 vaccines may increase heart disease risk.
The study was published in Chaos and conducted by Jan Christoph.
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