Towards predictive modelling of the electrophysiology of the heart

Exp Physiol. 2009 May;94(5):563-77. doi: 10.1113/expphysiol.2008.044073. Epub 2009 Mar 6.


The simulation of cardiac electrical function is an example of a successful integrative multiscale modelling approach that is directly relevant to human disease. Today we stand at the threshold of a new era, in which anatomically detailed, tomographically reconstructed models are being developed that integrate from the ion channel to the electromechanical interactions in the intact heart. Such models hold high promise for interpretation of clinical and physiological measurements, for improving the basic understanding of the mechanisms of dysfunction in disease, such as arrhythmias, myocardial ischaemia and heart failure, and for the development and performance optimization of medical devices. The goal of this article is to present an overview of current state-of-art advances towards predictive computational modelling of the heart as developed recently by the authors of this article. We first outline the methodology for constructing electrophysiological models of the heart. We then provide three examples that demonstrate the use of these models, focusing specifically on the mechanisms for arrhythmogenesis and defibrillation in the heart. These include: (1) uncovering the role of ventricular structure in defibrillation; (2) examining the contribution of Purkinje fibres to the failure of the shock; and (3) using magnetic resonance imaging reconstructed heart models to investigate the re-entrant circuits formed in the presence of an infarct scar.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Computer Simulation
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Electric Countershock
  • Electrophysiological Phenomena
  • Heart / anatomy & histology
  • Heart / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional
  • Models, Anatomic
  • Models, Cardiovascular*
  • Myocardial Infarction / physiopathology
  • Purkinje Fibers / physiology
  • Tachycardia, Ventricular / physiopathology
  • Ventricular Fibrillation / physiopathology
  • Ventricular Fibrillation / therapy