Developing the Coupling of the Mechanical to the Electrical and Calcium Systems in a Heart Cell
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Calcium Induced Calcium Release
High Performance Computing Facility (HPCF)
As the leading cause of death in the United States, heart disease has become a principal concern in modern society. Cardiac arrhythmias can be caused by a dysregulation of calcium dynamics in cardiomyocytes. Calcium dysregulation, however, is not yet fully understood and is not easily predicted; this provides motivation for the subsequent research. Excitation-contraction coupling (ECC) is the process through which cardiomyocytes undergo contraction from an action potential. Calcium induced calcium release (CICR) is the mechanism through which electrical excitation is coupled with mechanical contraction through calcium signaling. The study of the interplay between electrical excitation, calcium signaling, and mechanical contraction has the potential to better our understanding of the regular functioning of the cardiomyocytes and help us understand how any dysregulation can lead to potential cardiac arrhythmias. ECC, of which CICR is an important part, can be modeled using a system of partial differential equations that link the electrical excitation, calcium signaling, and mechanical contraction components of a cardiomyocyte. We extend a previous model to implement a seven variable model that includes for the first time the mechanical component of the ECC. We conduct a parameter study to determine how the interaction of electrical and calcium systems can impact the cardiomyocyte’s levels of contraction.