Computer Methods in Biomechanics and Biomedical Engineering

Towards real-time simulation of cardiac electrophysiology in a human heart at high resolution

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We have developed the capability to rapidly simulate cardiac electrophysiological phenomena in a human heart discretised at a resolution comparable with the length of a cardiac myocyte. Previous scientific investigation has generally invoked simplified geometries or coarse-resolution hearts, with simulation duration limited to 10s of heartbeats. Using state-of-the-art high-performance computing techniques coupled with one of the most powerful computers available (the 20 PFlop/s IBM BlueGene/Q at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory), high-resolution simulation of the human heart can now be carried out over 1200 times faster compared with published results in the field. We demonstrate the utility of this capability by simulating, for the first time, the formation of transmural re-entrant waves in a 3D human heart. Such wave patterns are thought to underlie Torsades de Pointes, an arrhythmia that indicates a high risk of sudden cardiac death. Our new simulation capability has the potential to impact a multitude of applications in medicine, pharmaceuticals and implantable devices. © 2013 © This article has been authored by Lawrence Livermore National Security under Contract No. DE-AC52-07NA27344 with the U.S. Department of Energy. Accordingly, the publisher, by accepting the article for publication, acknowledges that the United States Government retains a non-exclusive, paid-up, irrevocable, world-wide license to publish or reproduce the published form of this article or allow others to do so, for United States Government purposes.