Spatially discordant alternans (SDA) of action potential duration (APD) is a phenomenon where different regions of cardiac tissue exhibit an alternating sequence of APD that are out-of-phase. SDA is arrhythmogenic since it can induce spatial heterogeneity of refractoriness, which can cause wavebreak and reentry. However, the underlying mechanisms for the formation of SDA are not completely understood. In this paper, we present a novel mechanism for the formation of SDA in the case where the cellular instability leading to alternans is caused by intracellular calcium (Ca) cycling, and where Ca transient and APD alternans are electromechanically concordant. In particular, we show that SDA is formed when rapidly paced cardiac tissue develops alternans over many beats due to Ca accumulation in the sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR). The mechanism presented here relies on the observation that Ca cycling fluctuations dictate Ca alternans phase since the amplitude of Ca alternans is small during the early stages of pacing. Thus, different regions of a cardiac myocyte will typically develop Ca alternans which are opposite in phase at the early stages of pacing. These subcellular patterns then gradually coarsen due to interactions with membran...Continue Reading
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