Electrical turbulence in three-dimensional heart muscle

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Science  11 Nov 1994:
Vol. 266, Issue 5187, pp. 1003-1006
DOI: 10.1126/science.7973648


Rotors or vortex action potentials with a diameter of about 1 centimeter and a rotation period of about 0.1 second occur in normal myocardium just before transition to fibrillation, a disorderly pattern of action potential propagation. Numerical models and corresponding mathematical analysis have recently suggested candidate mechanisms, all two-dimensional, for this transition from periodic electrical activity to something resembling turbulence. However, comparably recent experiments unanimously show that rotors, and the spiral waves they radiate, remain stably periodic in two-dimensional myocardium. This seeming paradox suggests a transition mediated through disorderly dynamics of the electrical vortex in three dimensions, as a "vortex filament."

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