Simulation of cardiac activity and the ECG using a heart model with a reaction-diffusion action potential

Omer Berenfeld, Shimon Abboud*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A computerized model of the heart for the simulation of the electrical cardiac activity is described. The cardiac cells are arranged in a three-dimensional cubic lattice and their action potential is governed by modified FitzHugh-Nagumo reaction-diffusion state equations system which exhibits properties such as oscillations, variable excitability and refractoriness. The modifications of the AlzHugh-Nagumo equations system account far asymmetric action potential regarding the fast depolarization and slow repolarization rate and for rotational anisotropic propagation. An isolated cell is tested for reproduction of the strength-duration curves and restitution. The structure basic unit cell is assigned with an individual set of control parameters Mat creates inhomogeneity and anisotropy to simulate the various cardiac components such as pacers, muscle cells and conduction fibers. The spatial resolution of the structure is 1 mm. The collective activity of the cells generates a realistic ECG waveform that scales the simulated temporal step unit to 0.2 msec. The effective diffusion coefficient ranges between 0.055 mm2/msec to 1 mm2/msec. The propagation velocity of the myocardial activation is calculated at normal direction to the wavefront surface and values obtained are 1.17 mm/msec at the muscle cells and 25 mm/msec at the main conduction fibers. An ischemia is induced to verify the capability of the model to account for abnormalities. The developed model can give an insight into the local and global complex dynamics of the heart's electrical activity in the transition from no,mal to abnormal myocardial activity and may help to estimate the effects of myocardial properties on the ECG rhythm.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)615-625
Number of pages11
JournalMedical Engineering and Physics
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 1996


  • Action potential
  • ECG simulation
  • FitzHugh-Nagumo equations
  • Heart model
  • Reaction-diffusion
  • Rotational anisotropy


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