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A coupled biventricular finite element and lumped-parameter circulatory system model of heart failure.


Numerical modelling of the cardiovascular system is becoming an important tool for assessing the influence of heart disease and treatment therapies. In the current study, we present an approach for modelling the interaction between the heart and the circulatory system. This was accomplished by creating animal-specific biventricular finite element (FE) models, which characterise the mechanical response of the heart, and by coupling them to a lumped-parameter model that represents the systemic and pulmonic circulatory system. In order to minimise computation time, the coupling was enforced in a weak (one-way) manner, where the ventricular pressure-volume relationships were generated by the FE models and then passed into the circulatory system model to ensure volume conservation and physiological pressure changes. The models were first validated by tuning the parameters, such that the output of the models matched experimentally measured pressures and volumes. Then the models were used to examine cardiac function and the myofibre stress in a healthy canine heart and a canine heart with dilated cardiomyopathy. The results showed good agreement with experimental measurements. The stress in the case of cardiomyopathy was found to increase significantly, while the pump function was decreased, compared to the healthy case. The total runtime of the simulations is lesser than that of many fully coupled models presented in the literature. This will allow for a much quicker evaluation of possible treatment strategies for combating the effects of heart failure, especially in optimisation schemes that require numerous FE simulations.

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