iHEART Simulator Enhances Understanding of Heart Diseases

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Patient suffering heart pain

At the forefront of groundbreaking research in cardiology lies the iHEART Simulator, a remarkable mathematical and computational model of the human heart developed exclusively at Politecnico di Milano.

This cutting-edge technology has paved the way for a new era of scientific exploration, focusing primarily on the intricate world of coronary artery disease. The culmination of years of research within the “iHEART” (Integrated Heart) project, directed and coordinated by the visionary Professor Alfio Quarteroni, this simulator represents a milestone in the quest for a comprehensive understanding of the human heart and its associated diseases. 

What sets the iHEART Simulator apart from conventional cardiac models is its remarkable ability to integrate the complex processes of electromechanics, hemodynamics, and cardiac perfusion into a single, cohesive platform. This unprecedented level of integration promises biophysical accuracy that was previously unimaginable, offering researchers a unique tool for simulating heart function and exploring the complexities of heart-related diseases. The study was covered by the Scientific Reports. 

A key focus of this innovative technology is its application in the analysis of coronary artery disease, including conditions like ischemia and acute myocardial infarction. Thanks to the iHEART Simulator, researchers now have the capability to delve deeper into these diseases, scrutinizing them with unparalleled detail and accuracy. This breakthrough holds the promise of opening new avenues for therapeutic intervention and treatment strategies. 

Collaborating closely with the IRCCS Ospedale San Raffaele di Milano and Humanities Research Hospital in Milan, the iHEART project has also extended its reach into the realm of cardiac arrhythmias. Ventricular tachycardia and atrial fibrillation, notorious for their potential life-threatening consequences, have been subjected to rigorous mathematical modeling. The results have been astounding, as researchers have uncovered key factors contributing to the onset and maintenance of these arrhythmias.

Importantly, this has led to a deeper understanding of how cardiac mathematics can complement electrophysiological studies, aiding in the precise localization of intervention areas on the heart wall. Furthermore, the development of increasingly faster algorithms is underway, promising the potential for real-time analysis and significantly expediting the decision-making process for surgeries related to arrhythmias. 

Another remarkable collaboration, this time with Ospedale Sacco di Milano, led to the creation of a model that guides cardiac surgeons in the delicate task of removing part of the interventricular septum, a critical procedure for treating hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy. Mathematical simulation plays a pivotal role in the pre-operative phase, proving to be an invaluable tool for surgeons. This innovative approach has garnered the endorsement of medical professionals, recognizing its effectiveness in guiding this intricate surgical procedure. 

Yet another significant achievement in collaboration with Ospedale Santa Maria del Carmine in Rovereto (Trento province) is the development of a mathematical tool aimed at optimizing cardiac resynchronization therapy. By reducing the time required for mapping the left ventricle, an essential step in implanting a resynchronization device, this technology not only minimizes patient exposure to invasive treatments but also provides precise guidance for catheter placement.

The result is improved outcomes for patients suffering from decompensated cardiac conditions, marking another triumph for the iHEART project. The iHEART Simulator represents the culmination of years of tireless research and development within the “iHEART” project, which spanned from 2017 to 2023. Its overarching mission was to create the world’s first comprehensive mathematical model of the human heart and its associated diseases.

The dedication of Professor Alfio Quarteroni and his team at Politecnico di Milano has yielded a technological marvel that has the potential to revolutionize the field of cardiology. The impact of the iHEART Simulator and the “iHEART” project has been so profound that it garnered international recognition at the ICIAM 2023 Conference in Tokyo. Professor Alfio Quarteroni was awarded the prestigious Lagrange Prize by the International Council for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (ICIAM) during a Plenary Lecture where he presented the groundbreaking results of this extraordinary endeavor.



This recognition serves as a testament to the transformative power of the iHEART Simulator and the immense contribution it has made to advancing our understanding of the human heart and its intricate diseases. The iHEART Simulator stands as a shining example of the potential of mathematical and computational modeling to revolutionize the field of cardiology.

Its ability to seamlessly integrate electromechanics, hemodynamics, and cardiac perfusion into a single platform has opened new frontiers in our understanding of heart function and disease. With its applications spanning from coronary artery disease to cardiac arrhythmias and beyond, the iHEART Simulator holds the promise of not only advancing our knowledge but also improving patient care and treatment outcomes. It is a testament to the power of interdisciplinary collaboration and the tireless pursuit of scientific excellence. 

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