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Can chaos theory help predict heart attacks?

Date:
July 23, 2010
Source:
American Institute of Physics
Summary:
Chaos models may someday help model cardiac arrhythmias -- abnormal electrical rhythms of the heart, say researchers.

A space-time plot of the alternans along a cardiac fiber is a solution to the Echebarria-Karma equation.
Credit: Image courtesy of American Institute of Physics

Chaos models may someday help model cardiac arrhythmias -- abnormal electrical rhythms of the heart, say researchers in the journal Chaos, published by the American Institute of Physics.

In recent years, medical research has drawn more attention to chaos in cardiac dynamics. Although chaos marks the disorder of a dynamical system, locating the origin of chaos and watching it develop might allow researchers to predict, and maybe even counteract, certain outcomes.

An important example is the chaotic behavior of ventricular fibrillation, a severely abnormal heart rhythm that is often life-threatening. One study found chaos in two and three dimensions in the breakup of spiral and scroll waves, thought to be precursors of cardiac fibrillation. Another study found that one type of heartbeat irregularity, a sudden response of the heart to rapid beating called "spatially discordant alternans," leads to chaotic behavior and thus is a possible predictor of a fatal heart attack.

Mathematicians Shu Dai at Ohio State University and David Schaeffer at Duke University have built on this work to find another chaotic solution to an equation for alternans along a one-dimensional fiber of cardiac tissue with stimuli applied at one end. Assigning extreme parameter values to the model, the team was able to find chaotic behavior in space over time. The resulting chaos may have a unique origin, which has not yet been identified. -- VC, En


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Institute of Physics. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Shu Dai, David G. Schaeffer. Chaos for cardiac arrhythmias through a one-dimensional modulation equation for alternans. Chaos: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Nonlinear Science, 2010; 20 (2): 023131 DOI: 10.1063/1.3456058

Cite This Page:

American Institute of Physics. "Can chaos theory help predict heart attacks?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 July 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100721145105.htm>.
American Institute of Physics. (2010, July 23). Can chaos theory help predict heart attacks?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100721145105.htm
American Institute of Physics. "Can chaos theory help predict heart attacks?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100721145105.htm (accessed April 21, 2014).

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