An introduction to mathematical and numerical modeling in heart electrophysiology
The electrical activation of the heart is the biological process that regulates the contraction of the cardiac muscle, allowing it to pump blood to the whole body. In physiological conditions, the pacemaker cells of the sinoatrial node generate an action potential (a sudden variation of the cell transmembrane potential) which, following preferential conduction pathways, propagates throughout the heart walls and triggers the contraction of the heart chambers. The action potential propagation can be mathematically described by coupling a model for the ionic currents, flowing through the membrane of a single cell, with a macroscopical model that describes the propagation of the electrical signal in the cardiac tissue. The most accurate model available in the literature for the description of the macroscopic propagation in the muscle is the Bidomain model, a degenerate parabolic system composed of two non-linear partial differential equations for the intracellular and extracellular potential. In this paper, we present an introduction to the fundamental aspects of mathematical modeling and numerical simulation in cardiac electrophysiology.