Towards real-time simulation of cardiac electrophysiology in a human heart at high resolution

David F. Richards, James N. Glosli, Erik W. Draeger, Arthur A. Mirin, Bor Chan, Jean luc Fattebert, William D. Krauss, Tomas Oppelstrup, Chris J. Butler, John A. Gunnels, Viatcheslav Gurev, Changhoan Kim, John Magerlein, Matthias Reumann, Hui Fang Wen, John Jeremy Rice

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review


We have developed the capability to rapidly simulate cardiac electrophysiological phenomena in a human heart discretised at a resolution comparable with the length of a cardiac myocyte. Previous scientific investigation has generally invoked simplified geometries or coarse-resolution hearts, with simulation duration limited to 10s of heartbeats. Using state-of-the-art high-performance computing techniques coupled with one of the most powerful computers available (the 20 PFlop/s IBM BlueGene/Q at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory), high-resolution simulation of the human heart can now be carried out over 1200 times faster compared with published results in the field. We demonstrate the utility of this capability by simulating, for the first time, the formation of transmural re-entrant waves in a 3D human heart. Such wave patterns are thought to underlie Torsades de Pointes, an arrhythmia that indicates a high risk of sudden cardiac death. Our new simulation capability has the potential to impact a multitude of applications in medicine, pharmaceuticals and implantable devices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)802-805
Number of pages4
JournalComputer Methods in Biomechanics and Biomedical Engineering
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • arrhythmia
  • cardiac electrophysiology
  • cardiac models
  • high-performance computing
  • simulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Science Applications


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