Basic Science & Pathophysiology
Purkinje Fiber Project
Ventricular fibrillation (VF) causes the heart to contract irregularly and leads to almost complete termination of blood flow to the brain and other vital organs of the body. The only effective treatment for VF requires a large electric defibrillation shock extinguish the ineffective contractions and to restore normal, effective contractions. Recent studies have indicated that Purkinje fibers, specialized cells in the heart that spread the electrical impulses throughout the cardiac tissue, may play a critical role in maintaining VF after the first couple of minutes. Mapping the Purkinje system during long duration VF (VF lasting more than 1 minute) will reveal the activity of the Purkinje system and may lead to improved interventions such as drug therapy or pacing techniques that will lead to improved survival of patients with VF.
Utah Collaborative Arrhythmia Project (UCAP)Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common arrhythmia affecting millions of Americans and costing billions of dollars in health care costs. Recent development in clinical cardiac electrophysiology have led to improved treatment options for patient with AF, success rates for drug therapy or interventional procedures are still far from optimal. With this project, we are developing animal models of AF in order to study the structural and electrophysiologic changes that lead to and accompany AF. We are using state of the art MRI imaging, clinical electrical mapping, histology, and other techniques to investigate the changes in cardiac tissue as AF develops in normal, healthy hearts and becomes permanent in diseased hearts. This revolutionary project will illuminate conditions that lead to AF, improve clinicians ability to select appropriate treatments for patients’ specific AF substrates, and aid in the development of improved AF treatment options for AF patients.