News FocusPhysiology

Heart Failure Simulated

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Science  02 Apr 1999:
Vol. 284, Issue 5411, pp. 33-34
DOI: 10.1126/science.284.5411.33

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New computer models and other results suggest why failing hearts show diminished contractility and an increased susceptibility to fatal rhythm disturbances. The work, described in the 19 March issue of Circulation Research, suggests that it's largely due to the altered production of two proteins that help control the concentrations of calcium ions in cells. If so, the simulations, which mimic the interplay of many different proteins controlling heart muscle contraction, may have important medical implications, because they show how the biochemical changes might trigger the fatal arrhythmias, which suggests that drugs capable of restoring the proper balance of calcium in cardiac cells could be used to treat heart failure and prevent the arrhythmias.