CANES Seminar: Complexity Science approach to modelling Atrial Fibrillation

Professor Kim Christensen

Department of Physics and Centre for Complexity Science, Imperial College London

Wednesday 17 January 2018
Time: 4pm
Venue: King's College London, Strand Campus, Strand Building, Room S-2.08
Contact: CANES Centre Manager
Tel: 020 7848 7951

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common abnormal heart rhythm and thesingle biggest cause of stroke. Ablation, destroying regions of the atria, is applied largely empirically and can be curative but with a disappointing clinical success rate. We design a simple model of activation wave front propagation on an anisotropic structure mimicking the branching network of heart muscle cells. This integration of phenomenological dynamics and pertinent structure shows how AF emerges spontaneously when the transverse cell-to-cell coupling decreases, as occurs with age, beyond a threshold value. We identify critical regions responsible for the initiation and maintenance of AF, the ablation of which terminates AF. Hence, we explicitly relate the microstructural features of heart muscle tissue (myocardial architecture) with the emergent temporal clinical patterns of AF. The simplicity of the model allows us to calculate analytically the risk of arrhythmia and express the threshold value of transversal cell-to-cell coupling as a function of the model parameters. The behaviour of the threshold value can explain various clinical observations, for example that using antiarrhythmic drugs to increase the refractory period might terminate AF. Furthermore, the insight provided by the model may eventually lead to patient-specific therapy when it becomes possible to observe the cellular structure of a patient’s heart.

[1] K. Christensen, K.A. Manani and N.S. Peters, Simple model for identifying critical regions in atrial fibrillarion, Phys. Rev. Lett. 114, 028104 (2015).
[2] K.A. Manani, K. Christensen and N.S. Peters, Myocardial architecture and patient variability in clinical patterns of atrial fibrillation, Phys. Rev. E 94, 042401 (2016).


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