Atrial fibrillation (AF) is believed to be perpetuated by recirculating spiral waves. Atrial structures are often characterized with action potentials of varying morphologies; however, the role of the structure-dependent atrial electrophysiological heterogeneity in spiral wave behaviour is not well understood. The purpose of this study is to determine the effect of action potential morphology heterogeneity associated with the major atrial structures in spiral wave maintenance. The present study also focuses on how this effect is further modulated by the presence of the inherent periodicity in atrial structure. The goals of the study are achieved through the simulation of electrical behaviour in a two-dimensional atrial tissue model that incorporates the representation of action potentials in various structurally distinct regions in the right atrium. Periodic boundary conditions are then imposed to form a cylinder (quasi three-dimensional), thus allowing exploration of the additional effect of structure periodicity on spiral wave behaviour. Transmembrane potential maps and phase singularity traces are analysed to determine effects on spiral wave behaviour. Results demonstrate that the prolonged refractoriness of the crista terminalis (CT) affects the pattern of spiral wave reentry, while the variation in action potential morphology of the other structures does not. The CT anchors the spiral waves, preventing them from drifting away. Spiral wave dynamics is altered when the ends of the sheet are spliced together to form a cylinder. The main effect of the continuous surface is the generation of secondary spiral waves which influences the primary rotors. The interaction of the primary and secondary spiral waves decreased as cylinder diameter increased.
One contribution of 15 to a Theme Issue ‘Biomathematical modelling II’.
- © 2006 The Royal Society