Researchers from the I3A and the CIBER-BBN at the University of Zaragoza Esther Pueyo and Konstantinos Mountris have been interwiewed at the Radio program “Hoy por Hoy” LA SER in relation with their work from engineering and mathematics to understand the functioning of the heart when it is healthy and when a heart attack occurs, to provide clinical specialists with the tools needed to improve patient care.
They do this through computing in cardiology using the instalations of the ICTS Nanbiosis U27 High Performance Computing Unit, with the creation of a virtual heart that allows the computer to reproduce the electrical activity of a real heart. His line of research advances towards a simpler methodology. Until now, computational simulation required the construction of a geometry that created a mesh, joining different points of that virtual heart. This system was not applicable to the clinical routine, extensive engineering knowledge was needed, but now they have created a new methodology that facilitates that application because it more easily translates an image to a computational model and, therefore, it can be easier to be interpreted in the hospital setting.
It is an innovative advance in this field and its work has already been recognized in the Congress of Computing in Cardiology (CinC) held recently and where they have received the Maastricht Simulation Award (MSA). “The Meshfree Immersed Grid alleviates the necessity for mesh generation and allows eliminating the mesh-related limitations. Using the HPC services of NANBIOSIS U27 High Performance Computing, – explains Konstantinos Mountris – we were able to validate the Meshfree Immersed Grid method as a promising alternative to Finite Element Method performing large-scale simulations of myocardial infarction in biventricular swine models“
Until now, this group of researchers started from a clinical image that they had to divide into small pieces and establish their connection. With this new methodology, this is no longer necessary, it is no longer necessary to build the virtual heart by connecting those small parts to see how it works, but they start from the image itself, a model is built automatically and they are able to see the activity cardiac.
This methodology that unites engineering and mathematics “is applicable to different pathologies of the heart, but in the work that we present, it had been tested against myocardial infarction. Our idea is to test the electrical activity of the heart that has suffered a heart attack ”, explains Konstantinos Mountris, but they also test the activity in a healthy heart.
Transferring the image of a damaged heart to the computer simulation allows us to check what its activity will be like from now on, how it will behave and this can help clinicians in their diagnosis, application of treatments and decision making. It is a method with a great mathematical and engineering load but with a great clinical application, “they are algorithms that could be taken to the clinic and obtain a result from the image that doctors have”, highlights Esther Pueyo, principal investigator of the project European Modelage, in which the work that has just been internationally recognized is framed.
This line of research proposes a method that has different applications, from surgeries to diagnostic tests or treatments. A mathematical model that reproduces how a healthy heart or a heart with areas affected by an arrhythmia or a heart attack works and that can be adapted to each patient.
Modelage is a project that tries to know the aging rhythms of the heart and develop patterns that help prevent arrhythmias are some of the objectives. It is led by Esther Pueyo, a CIBER-BBN researcher in the BSICoS group of the I3A led by Pablo Laguna. It was selected within the first Starting Grant call of the Horizon 2020 program of the European Union in which more than 3,200 proposals competed.