New Computer Program Predicts Heart Attacks
Blood flows through the left coronary artery in this supercomputer simulation.
A supercomputing lab in Switzerland has developed a flowing 3-D model of the cardiovascular system that should allow for predictions of certain heart diseases before they become dangerous.
The computer program accurately models the complex system of blood flow in the hearts of individual people at a precision of ten millionths of a meter. Based on a detailed heart scan, the simulation juggles over a billion different variables in order to represent a fluid containing ten million red blood cells.
"When studying the blood flow in arteries, one has to take into account a vast number of different fluid interactions that happen on different time scales and of different sizes," said Simone Melchionna, who heads the project run on the Cadmos supercomputer at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) Laboratory of Multiscale Modeling of Materials.
The complex simulations—which take up to six hours using a supercomputer —will allow for a detailed study of the cardiovascular system and help pave the way for early predictions of heart conditions such as arteriosclerosis, or the hardening of arteries that often leads to heart attacks.
Plans are in the works to develop the program for individual PCs for clinical applications within the next two to three years.
Using another supercomputer based in Juelich, Germany, the research team has achieved a precision that allows for the visualization of the interaction of plasma, red blood cells and even micro-particles within a heart's blood flow.
"We can evaluate all of the elements and how they interact with each other, move, stagnate and whirl and turn over each other," Melchionna said.
This precision could allow for the detection of the first signs of arteriosclerosis, the main cause of the heart attacks that are responsible for 12 percent of deaths in the world.