Pacemaker Malfunction paper published in IEEE EMBC’11, Auguest 2011

Implantable cardiac devices such as artificial pacemakers deliver therapies according to the timing information from the heart. Such devices work under the assumptions of perfect sensing, which are: (a) the pacemaker leads remain in place, and (b) the pacing therapy in one chamber (e.g. atrium) is insulated from the other chambers (e.g. ventricles). But there are common cases which violate these assumptions and the mechanisms for imperfect sensing cannot be captured by a simple signal generator. In this paper we use the Penn Virtual Heart Model (VHM) to investigate the spatial and temporal aspects of the electrical conduction system of the heart in a closed-loop with a pacemaker model. We utilize the spatial properties of the heart to model the sensing mechanism, and use clinical cases to show the validity of our sensing model. Such closed-loop evaluation of the pacemaker operation allows for functional testing of pacemaker software, the development of new algorithms for rhythm therapy and also serves as a tool for incoming cardiac electrophysiology fellows.

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