Graph-based homogenisation for modelling cardiac fibrosis

J Comput Phys. 2022 Jun 15;459:None. doi: 10.1016/


Fibrosis, the excess of extracellular matrix, can affect, and even block, propagation of action potential in cardiac tissue. This can result in deleterious effects on heart function, but the nature and severity of these effects depend strongly on the localisation of fibrosis and its by-products in cardiac tissue, such as collagen scar formation. Computer simulation is an important means of understanding the complex effects of fibrosis on activation patterns in the heart, but concerns of computational cost place restrictions on the spatial resolution of these simulations. In this work, we present a novel numerical homogenisation technique that uses both Eikonal and graph approaches to allow fine-scale heterogeneities in conductivity to be incorporated into a coarser mesh. Homogenisation achieves this by deriving effective conductivity tensors so that a coarser mesh can then be used for numerical simulation. By taking a graph-based approach, our homogenisation technique functions naturally on irregular grids and does not rely upon any assumptions of periodicity, even implicitly. We present results of action potential propagation through fibrotic tissue in two dimensions that show the graph-based homogenisation technique is an accurate and effective way to capture fine-scale domain information on coarser meshes in the context of sharp-fronted travelling waves of activation. As test problems, we consider excitation propagation in tissue with diffuse fibrosis and through a tunnel-like structure designed to test homogenisation, interaction of an excitation wave with a scar region, and functional re-entry.

Keywords: Cardiac modelling; Eikonal methods; Graph-based modelling; Homogenisation; Numerical upscaling.