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We describe a combined experiment-modelling framework to investigate the effects of ischaemia on the organisation of ventricular fibrillation in the human heart. In a series of experimental studies epicardial activity was recorded from 10 patients undergoing routine cardiac surgery. Ventricular fibrillation was induced by burst pacing, and recording continued during 2.5 min of global cardiac ischaemia followed by 30 s of coronary reflow. Modelling used a 2D description of human ventricular tissue. Global cardiac ischaemia was simulated by (i) decreased intracellular ATP concentration and subsequent activation of an ATP sensitive K⁺ current, (ii) elevated extracellular K⁺ concentration, and (iii) acidosis resulting in reduced magnitude of the L-type Ca²⁺ current I(Ca,L). Simulated ischaemia acted to shorten action potential duration, reduce conduction velocity, increase effective refractory period, and flatten restitution. In the model, these effects resulted in slower re-entrant activity that was qualitatively consistent with our observations in the human heart. However, the flattening of restitution also resulted in the collapse of many re-entrant waves to several stable re-entrant waves, which was different to the overall trend we observed in the experimental data. These findings highlight a potential role for other factors, such as structural or functional heterogeneity in sustaining wavebreak during human ventricular fibrillation with global myocardial ischaemia.

Original publication




Journal article


Prog Biophys Mol Biol

Publication Date





101 - 111


Coronary Occlusion, Humans, Models, Biological, Myocardial Ischemia, Pericardium, Systems Integration, Ventricular Fibrillation