Alternans and higher-order rhythms in an ionic model of a sheet of ischemic ventricular muscle

Humberto ArceMichael R. Guevara


Life-threatening arrhythmias such as ventricular tachycardia and fibrillation often occur during acute myocardial ischemia. During the first few minutes following coronary occlusion, there is a gradual rise in the extracellular concentration of potassium ions ([K(+)](0)) within ischemic tissue. This elevation of [K(+)](0) is one of the main causes of the electrophysiological changes produced by ischemia, and has been implicated in inducing arrhythmias. We investigate an ionic model of a 3 cmx3 cm sheet of normal ventricular myocardium containing an ischemic zone, simulated by elevating [K(+)](0) within a centrally-placed 1 cmx1 cm area of the sheet. As [K(+)](0) is gradually raised within the ischemic zone from the normal value of 5.4 mM, conduction first slows within the ischemic zone and then, at higher [K(+)](0), an arc of block develops within that area. The area distal to the arc of block is activated in a delayed fashion by a retrogradely moving wavefront originating from the distal edge of the ischemic zone. With a further increase in [K(+)](0), the point eventually comes where a very small increase in [K(+)](0) (0.01 mM) results in the abrupt transition from a global period-1 rhythm to a global period-2 rhythm in the sh...Continue Reading


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