L. M. Munoz, J. F. Stockton and N. F. Otani, Applications of control theory to the dynamics and propagation of cardiac action potentials, Annals of Biomedical Engineering 38, 2865-2876 (2010).


Sudden cardiac arrest is a widespread cause of death in the industrialized world. Most cases of sudden cardiac arrest are due to ventricular fibrillation (VF), a lethal cardiac arrhythmia. Electrophysiological abnormalities such as alternans (a beat-to-beat alternation in action potential duration) and conduction block have been suspected to contribute to the onset of VF. This study focuses on the use of control-systems techniques to analyze and design methods for suppressing these precursor factors. Control-systems tools, specifically controllability analysis and Lyapunov stability methods, were applied to a two-variable Karma model of the action-potential (AP) dynamics of a single cell, to analyze the effectiveness of strategies for suppressing AP abnormalities. State-feedback-integral (SFI) control was then applied to a Purkinje fiber simulated with the Karma model, where only one stimulating electrode was used to affect the system. SFI control converted both discordant alternans and 2:1 conduction block back toward more normal patterns, over a wider range of fiber lengths and pacing intervals compared with a Pyragas-type chaos controller. The advan-tages conferred by using feedback from multiple locations in the fiber, and using integral (i.e., memory) terms in the controller, are discussed.