The Living Heart Project: A robust and integrative simulator for human heart function.


The heart is not only our most vital, but also our most complex organ: Precisely controlled by the interplay of electrical and mechanical fields, it consists of four chambers and four valves, which act in concert to regulate its filling, ejection, and overall pump function. While numerous computational models exist to study either the electrical or the mechanical response of its individual chambers, the integrative electro-mechanical response of the whole heart remains poorly understood. Here we present a proof-of-concept simulator for a four-chamber human heart model created from computer topography and magnetic resonance images. We illustrate the governing equations of excitation-contraction coupling and discretize them using a single, unified finite element environment. To illustrate the basic features of our model, we visualize the electrical potential and the mechanical deformation across the human heart throughout its cardiac cycle. To compare our simulation against common metrics of cardiac function, we extract the pressure-volume relationship and show that it agrees well with clinical observations. Our prototype model allows us to explore and understand the key features, physics, and technologies to create an integrative, predictive model of the living human heart. Ultimately, our simulator will open opportunities to probe landscapes of clinical parameters, and guide device design and treatment planning in cardiac diseases such as stenosis, regurgitation, or prolapse of the aortic, pulmonary, tricuspid, or mitral valve.

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@article{Baillargeon2014TheLH, title={The Living Heart Project: A robust and integrative simulator for human heart function.}, author={Brian P. Baillargeon and Nuno Rebelo and David Fox and Robert L. V. Taylor and Ellen Kuhl}, journal={European journal of mechanics. A, Solids}, year={2014}, volume={48}, pages={38-47} }