Personalised 3D Virtual Heart to Predict Risk of Cardiac Death

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Personalised 3D Virtual Heart

A study published in the journal Nature Communications states that scientists from Johns Hopkins University, US, have developed a new non-invasive and personalised 3D virtual heart tool to help doctors determine the risk of death of heart patients from life-threatening arrhythmia.

Arrhythmia is a condition which can cause sudden death of a person when electrical waves in the heart run amok.

In order to ward off the risk of arrhythmia, doctors at present implant a small defibrillator that senses the onset of arrhythmia and pushes the heart back to normal rhythm. However, it is difficult to decide which heart patients actually need the invasive and costly defibrillator. “Our virtual heart test significantly outperformed several existing clinical metrics in predicting future arrhythmic events. This non-invasive and personalised virtual heart-risk assessment could help prevent sudden cardiac deaths and allow patients who are not at risk to avoid unnecessary defibrillator implantations,” said Natalia Trayanova from the Johns Hopkins University.

Scientists’ virtual heart test included records of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of heart attack survivors who face the threat of deadly arrhythmias. These records were used to build patient-specific digital replicas of the damaged heart. With the help of computer-modelling techniques, the geometrical replica of each patient’s heart was brought to life by incorporating representations of the electrical processes in the cardiac cells and communication among cells. Forty one heart patients were part of this study.

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