In brief

January 2016   Comments

Doing the math to predict heart arrhythmia

Mathematical analysis could predict and prevent a potentially fatal form of cardiac arrhythmia, say McGill University researchers. In the long QT syndrome, patients experience bouts of alternans, during which the regular rhythm of the heart is disrupted, and long and short heartbeats alternate with each other. Working with cells of embryonic chickens, the researchers found that alternans were preceded by a transition period, when the pattern “gets messy.” They were able to design a math function that described this transition. Computerized cardiac devices could use similar functions to predict and pre-empt the onset of alternans in humans.

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