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Leon Glass
Department of Physiology
McGill University


Stochastic Aspects of Cardiac Arrhythmias

Many cardiac arrhythmias have a haphazard appearance. They may start and stop suddenly, and there can be complex rules governing the mix of normal and abnormal heartbeats.  For example, in an arrhythmia called concealed bigeminy, over extended times of many minutes, there are an odd numbers of normal beats occurring between two abnormal beats. Although many mechanisms have been proposed to account for various cardiac arrhythmias, it is sometimes
difficult to associate a particular mechanism with a given record. In this talk I will suggest that subcellular events associated with the stochastic opening and closing of individual ion channels might be manifest in gross phenomenological statistical features of some arrhythmias. I review experimental and theoretical analyses that demonstrate the role of stochastic processes in resetting of aggregates of spontaneously beating heart cells, and argue that similar phenomena may be involved in the generation of irregularity of arrhythmias. I discuss how paroxysmal bursting rhythms may arise as a consequence of basic physiological properties of heart cells. Finally, I will discuss include analyses of cardiac arrhythmias in people. This talk is based on work with a number of colleagues including Claudia Lerma, Verena Schulte-Frohlinde, Trine Krogh-Madsden, Gil Bub, Gene Stanley, Michael Guevara, Alvin Shrier, and Ary Goldberger.



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