Using magnetic resonance imaging data of the hearts of patients who had suffered heart attacks, researchers have created highly accurate 3-D images of virtual hearts. The advanced computer models are used to determine a patient’s likelihood of developing cardiac arrhythmia in order to help cardiologists decide whether to prescribe an implantable defibrillator, according to a study published in Nature Communications
Natalia Trayanova, professor of biomedical engineering and one of the authors of the study, said in a news release
, “Our virtual heart test significantly outperformed several existing clinical metrics in predicting future arrhythmic events. This noninvasive and personalized virtual heart-risk assessment could help prevent sudden cardiac deaths and allow patients who are not at risk to avoid unnecessary defibrillator implantations."
The technology allows researchers to factor in the geometry of the patient's heart, the way electrical waves move through it and the impact of scar tissue left by an earlier heart attack to gauge the risk of sudden cardiac death due to arrhythmia.
The study concludes that the virtual heart models were considerably better at predicting outcomes than the commonly used ejection fracture measurement that estimates the amount of blood pushed out of the heart.