Modelling thermo-electro-mechanical effects in orthotropic cardiac tissue

Ricardo Ruiz-Baier, Alessio Gizzi, Alessandro Loppini, Christian Cherubini, Simonetta Filippi

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1 Citation (Scopus)


In this paper we introduce a new mathematical model for the active contraction of cardiac muscle, featuring different thermo-electric and nonlinear conductivity properties. The passive hyperelastic response of the tissue is described by an orthotropic exponential model, whereas the ionic activity dictates active contraction incorporated through the concept of orthotropic active strain. We use a fully incompressible formulation, and the generated strain modifies directly the conductivity mechanisms in the medium through the pull-back transformation. We also investigate the influence of thermo-electric effects in the onset of multiphysics emergent spatiotemporal dynamics, using nonlinear diffusion. It turns out that these ingredients have a key role in reproducing pathological chaotic dynamics such as ventricular fibrillation during inflammatory events, for instance. The specific structure of the governing equations suggests to cast the problem in mixed-primal form and we write it in terms of Kirchhoff stress, displacements, solid pressure, dimensionless electric potential, activation generation, and ionic variables. We also advance a new mixed-primal finite element method for its numerical approximation, and we use it to explore the properties of the model and to assess the importance of coupling terms, by means of a few computational experiments in 3D.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-115
Number of pages29
JournalCommunications in Computational Physics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Cardiac electromechanics
  • Numerical simulations
  • Orthotropic active strain
  • Scroll wave propagation
  • Thermo-electric coupling

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