Finally in the news this week is a pretty cool technology innovation that may help us understand the causes of a common cardiovascular problem, Atrial Fibrillation. Researchers at the University of Manchester School of Physics and Astronomy have used thin, two-dimensional slices of a sheep’s heart to construct a virtual 3-dimensional computer model of the heart.

Virtual Heart Model Changes View

EMS_Defibrillator_smBecause cellular data studies are incorporated into the rendering giving those looking at it to be able to manipulate it to model different diseases and cardiac problems. Very little is known about the causes of Atrial Fibrillation or A-Fib but we know it’s the cause of irregular heart rate and increases risk and severity of strokes in patients who have it.

What happens is that seemingly random electrical impulses in the atria fire and override the natural sinus pacemaker causing uncoordinated contraction of the cardiac muscle in the top chambers of the heart. This study focused on the Left Atrium and pulmonary vein which are common originating locations of A-Fib impulses.

Differing Structures Highlighted in Model

The virtual heart demonstrated differing structural arrangement between the bulk of Left Atrium and the part of the Left Atrium that surrounds the pulmonary vein where it enters the chamber. This differing structure may be part of the cause of Atrial Fibrillation and may help researchers to understand and come up with more effective treatments for the disorder. As I always do with news items like this one, we’ll keep following developments in this study and heck, maybe a virtual heart with demonstrations of patient conditions may come to the back of an ambulance near you sometime in the future.


Check out all of the links for this news item and all of the other news and additional resource links for the Tip of the Week in the shownotes for this week’s episode — Cannabinoid Hyperemesis, Opioid Hearing Loss, and Episode 320.


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