Modeling the Electrical Activity in Cardiac Tissue

Job Candidate Talk
Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - 11:05
1 hour (actually 50 minutes)
Skiles 06
Univ of Utah
Electrical stimulation of cardiac cells causes an action potential wave to propagate through myocardial tissue, resulting in muscular contraction and pumping blood through the body. Approximately two thirds of unexpected, sudden cardiac deaths, presumably due to ventricular arrhythmias, occur without recognition of cardiac disease. While conduction failure has been linked to arrhythmia, the major players in conduction have yet to be well established. Additionally, recent experimental studies have shown that ephaptic coupling, or field effects, occurring in microdomains may be another method of communication between cardiac cells, bringing into question the classic understanding that action potential propagation occurs primarily through gap junctions. In this talk, I will introduce the mechanisms behind cardiac conduction, give an overview of previously studied models, and present and discuss results from a new model for the electrical activity in cardiac cells with simplifications that afford more efficient numerical simulation, yet capture complex cellular geometry and spatial inhomogeneities that are critical to ephaptic coupling.