Scientists of the Ural Federal University (UrFU) for the first time in the world fundamentally investigated the influence of the structural features of fibrosis on the work of the heart. According to the authors, they were able to establish patterns of disturbances in the electrical excitation of cardiac tissue associated with fibrosis, which will help fight life-threatening arrhythmias. The research results are published in Scientific Reports.
Cardiac fibrosis is a pathological proliferation of connective tissue that occurs with aging, obesity and a number of heart diseases. The proportion of fibrous tissue in the walls of the heart chambers, according to scientists, can reach 40%. By changing the structure of the myocardium, fibrosis creates obstacles for the propagation of a wave of electrical excitation, which gives rise to cardiac arrhythmias.
“It turned out that disturbances in the excitation wave depend not only on the number of fibrous elements in the myocardial tissue, but also on their length, location in relation to muscle fibers and, most importantly, on the direction of the excitation wave,” the head of the Mathematical Modeling laboratory told RIA Novosti in physiology and medicine using supercomputer technologies “UrFU Olga Solovieva.
This relationship has not been previously described and, according to the authors of the work, may be the key to understanding the mechanism of lethal cardiac arrhythmias. Scientists are confident that the data from the study in the future should help prevent and treat them.
The computer models used, according to scientists, describe well the processes of electrical excitation of individual cells and all cardiac tissue as a whole. This allowed the analysis of thousands of diverse 3D simulations of various fibrosis structures. The calculations were carried out on a supercomputer IMM UB RAS.
In September, Sergei Boytsov, Director General of the National Medical Research Center for Cardiology, Chief Freelance Cardiologist of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation, predicted an increase in the number of people with heart failure after the COVID-19 pandemic.
The research was carried out in the joint scientific laboratory “Computer biology and medicine” of the Ural Federal University and the Institute of Immunology and Physiology of the Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences. In the future, scientists plan to continue modeling more complex structures of fibrosis in order to study the most dangerous changes in the myocardium and develop methods for eliminating the arrhythmias they cause. This work was supported by a grant from the Russian Foundation for Basic Research.