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Prog Biophys Mol Biol. 2004 Jun-Jul;85(2-3):501-22.

Electromechanical model of excitable tissue to study reentrant cardiac arrhythmias.

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  • 1Bioengineering Institute and Department of Engineering Science, The University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, New Zealand.


We introduce the concept of a contracting excitable medium that is capable of conducting non-linear waves of excitation that in turn initiate contraction. Furthermore, these kinematic deformations have a feedback effect on the excitation properties of the medium. Electrical characteristics resemble basic models of cardiac excitation that have been used to successfully study mechanisms of reentrant cardiac arrhythmias in electrophysiology. We present a computational framework that employs electromechanical and mechanoelectric feedback to couple a three-variable FitzHugh-Nagumo-type excitation-tension model to the non-linear stress equilibrium equations, which govern large deformation hyperelasticity. Numerically, the coupled electromechanical model combines a finite difference method approach to integrate the excitation equations, with a Galerkin finite element method to solve the equations governing tissue mechanics. We present example computations demonstrating various effects of contraction on stationary rotating spiral waves and spiral wave break. We show that tissue mechanics significantly contributes to the dynamics of electrical propagation, and that a coupled electromechanical approach should be pursued in future electrophysiological modelling studies.

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