Cardiac electrophysiology: theoretical considerations of a potential target for weak electromagnetic field effects.
Cooper PJ., Garny A., Kohl P.
With the widespread introduction of extra high voltage power transmission lines in the 1960s, and subsequent to early reports from Soviet Union scientists about health risks for transformer station personnel, public concern regarding the effects of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) on biological function has given rise to a large number of investigations and legislation to limit domestic and occupational exposure to EMFs. The underlying rationale for concern is related to the fact that living cells are electrically active, which makes them potentially vulnerable to electromagnetic interference. In the heart, electrical activity is crucial in coordinating the contraction of millions of cardiac cells, and disturbances in cardiac electrical activity, also known as arrhythmias, are often life threatening. Electrical fields induced in the heart by weak external EMFs (such as those encountered in a domestic setting) are understood to be at least 2 orders of magnitude smaller (< 1%) than those that occur naturally as an intrinsic consequence of cardiac activity. Using quantitative models of cardiac cellular electrophysiology, the effect of weak (1%) manipulation of key current mechanisms that give rise to the electrical activity of the heart is therefore assessed.