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Personalised heart models could improve cardiac care

Marianne Knight

Computer heart models personalised to each patient could improve the treatment of one of the UK’s most common cardiac conditions.

A team at King’s College London – funded by UK Research and Innovation’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and in collaboration with St Thomas’ Hospital – has taken the first steps in developing models designed to optimise a procedure that corrects atrial fibrillation, a condition which causes abnormal heart rhythms.

The new personalised computer models aim to increase the effectiveness of this procedure (which is known as ‘catheter ablation’) by making it possible to explore, in advance, different strategies for its use geared to the specific needs of individual patients. They could potentially save the NHS over £20million a year by reducing procedure times and cutting atrial fibrillation recurrence rates.

Atrial fibrillation reduces blood supply, leading to dizziness, breathlessness and fatigue, and increases the risk of a stroke. Every year, around 10,000 people in the UK have a catheter inserted in order to treat the condition using radiofrequency energy. But the procedure is not always effective, there is a small risk of it causing a stroke or death, and the condition often recurs.

Developed using skills in computational modelling, software development and image processing, and based on detailed data about the patient’s heart obtained through medical imaging, the models depict tissue condition and blood flow, and enable simulation of around 10 cardiac cycles lasting a few seconds in total.

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Further information

Read more on the EPSRC website.