A dedicated nonlinear oscillator model able to reproduce the pulse shape, refractory time, and phase sensitivity of the action potential of a natural pacemaker of the heart is developed. The phase space of the oscillator contains a stable node, a hyperbolic saddle, and an unstable focus. The model reproduces several phenomena well known in cardiology, such as certain properties of the sinus rhythm and heart block. In particular, the model reproduces the decrease of heart rate variability with an increase in sympathetic activity. A sinus pause occurs in the model due to a single, well-timed, external pulse just as it occurs in the heart, for example due to a single supraventricular ectopy. Several ways by which the oscillations cease in the system are obtained (models of the asystole). The model simulates properly the way vagal activity modulates the heart rate and reproduces the vagal paradox. Two such oscillators, coupled unidirectionally and asymmetrically, allow us to reproduce the properties of heart rate variability obtained from patients with different kinds of heart block including sino-atrial blocks of different degree and a complete AV block (third degree). Finally, we demonstrate the possibility of introducing into the model a spatial dimension that creates exciting possibilities of simulating in the future the SA the AV nodes and the atrium including their true anatomical structure.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
- Mathematical Physics
- Physics and Astronomy(all)
- Applied Mathematics