We congratulate Dr. Patricia García Cañadilla, who defended her dissertation on July 2nd. Well done Patricia ;).
Cardiovascular diseases are nowadays one of the major causes of death in developed countries. Besides the already known risk factors such as lifestyle and genetics, there is a growing evidence that adverse remodelling during prenatal life presents a risk factor for some cardiovascular diseases at later life. Recent studies have demonstrated that fetuses with intra-uterine growth restriction show cardiovascular remodelling at organ, vascular and also cellular and subcellular level, and moreover these changes persist postnatally. However this is a complex mechanism that needs to be further investigated. Currently, Doppler ultrasonography is one of the techniques most used to assess the fetal cardiovascular status and to study the heart and vascular remodelling in clinical practice. However, some of underlying hemodynamic and vascular changes cannot be assessed clinically and more sophisticated techniques are needed. Computational modelling of biological systems arises as a powerful tool to overcome this challenge, to support clinicians and to improve the understanding of different pathologies. In this thesis we proposed the use of computational models of fetal circulation, of cardiac cells and also image-processing tools, to improve the understanding of intra-uterine cardiac remodelling that takes place at different scales of the fetal cardiovascular system, and also to estimate the patient-specific hemodynamic properties that cannot be directly assessed from clinical measurements. The results arising from this thesis demonstrate that computational models are able to improve the understanding and detection of the intra-uterine cardiovascular remodelling by means of patient-specific simulations.
Keywords: computational model, lumped model, patient-specific model, intrauterine growth restriction, fetal circulation, cardiac remodelling, Doppler imaging, aortic isthmus, cerebral arteries, umbilical artery, placenta, sarcomere, second harmonic generation, cardiac cell, electromechanical model, calcium, elastic modulus.