Health

A Digital Heart

Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news
 

What happens to the heart during a heart attack? To better understand a heart in extremis, two medical researchers have made a three- dimensional model of the electrical activity in a dog’s heart. (Dog hearts have been extensively dissected and probed, so researchers know much more about canine hearts than they do about human hearts.) In a normal heart (above), the electrical activity (shown in blue) sweeps across cardiac muscles in one quick wave. But during a heart attack, the electrical excitation spreads randomly through the heart, shown in the lower image as a splotchy muddle of relaxed (red) and excited cells. This chaotic activity reverberates all over the surface and within the heart. As a result, the heart no longer pumps blood, because it doesn’t contract and expand systematically, says Raimond Winslow, a biomedical engineer at Johns Hopkins who developed the model with Denis Noble of Oxford. The waves just circulate in a chaotic fashion within the heart, Winslow says. This model is just the first of a full range of simulations that he hopes researchers will be able to use to develop better drugs and pacemakers.

1 free article left
Want More? Get unlimited access for as low as $1.99/month
Already a subscriber? Log In or Register
1 free articleSubscribe
Want unlimited access?

Subscribe today and save 70%

Subscribe

Already a subscriber? Log In or Register
More From Discover
Recommendations From Our Store
Shop Now
Stay Curious
Join
Our List

Sign up for our weekly science updates.

 
Subscribe
To The Magazine

Save up to 70% off the cover price when you subscribe to Discover magazine.

Copyright © 2021 Kalmbach Media Co.