Three-dimensional mechanisms of increased vulnerability to electric shocks in myocardial infarction: altered virtual electrode polarizations and conduction delay in the peri-infarct zone

J Physiol. 2012 Sep 15;590(18):4537-51. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2012.229088. Epub 2012 May 14.


Defibrillation efficacy is decreased in infarcted hearts, but the mechanisms by which infarcted hearts are more vulnerable to electric shocks than healthy hearts remain poorly understood. The goal of this study was to provide insight into the 3D mechanisms for the increased vulnerability to electric shocks in infarcted hearts. We hypothesized that changes in virtual electrode polarizations (VEPs) and propagation delay through the peri-infarct zone (PZ) were responsible. We developed a micro anatomically detailed rabbit ventricular model with chronic myocardial infarction from magnetic resonance imaging and enriched the model with data from optical mapping experiments. We further developed a control model without the infarct. The simulation protocol involved apical pacing followed by biphasic shocks. Simulation results from both models were compared.The upper limit of vulnerability(ULV) was 8 V cm(-1) in the infarction model and 4 V cm(-1) in the control model. VEPs were less pronounced in the infarction model, providing a larger excitable area for postshock propagation but smaller transmembrane potential gradients to initiate new wavefronts. Initial post-shock transmural activation occurred at a later time in the infarction model, and the PZ served to delay propagation in subsequent beats. The presence of the PZ was found to be responsible for the increased vulnerability.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Computer Simulation
  • Electric Countershock*
  • Electrodes
  • Heart Conduction System / physiopathology
  • Models, Cardiovascular*
  • Myocardial Infarction / physiopathology*
  • Rabbits