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An interdisciplinary, model-based, approach towards understanding changes in cardiac performance induced by competitive sports, abnormal foetal development and eating disorders (ATUCAP)

Funding agency: Spanish Ministery of Education and Culture under the program ISCIII (FIS-PI11/01709). 2012-2014

Partners: Universitat Pompeu Fabra (Bart Bijnens, Georgina Palau Caballero), Hospital Clínic i Provincial de Barcelona (Etelvino Silva Garcia, Manuel Azqueta Molluna, Adelina Doltra Magarolas)

Project description: Cardiovascular problems, especially sudden death, in young people, have a high social impact. There is growing evidence that, in addition to congenital defects, some previously unsuspected conditions or lifestyles can induce malignant cardiovascular adaptations resulting in severe problems and even death.

The largest population at risk, are those performing high intensity exercise, in the setting of professional sports or as passionate amateur. In a subset, there are abnormal cardiac changes leading to structural damage, arrhythmias and ultimately death. Beside athletes, abnormal foetal development (5-10% of the population) leads to cardiovascular remodelling and might result in a higher risk for serious cardiac complications at later age. Additionally, while eating disorders such as anorexia are generally considered psychiatric disorders, they are often associated with severe cardiovascular abnormalities.

Mathematical modelling offers the possibility to gain more insight in the mechanisms underlying observed changes in cardiovascular performance and haemodynamics by testing a large variety of potentially influencing factors and enabling a detailed analysis of changes.
We will implement an interdisciplinary, model-based, approach towards understanding changes in cardiac performance induced by sports, foetal development and eating disorders using a lumped, modular, computational model of the circulation. Using data from animal models and humans (from sports associations, including FC Barcelona), the model will be calibrated and improved. 
This approach will provide a better scientific understanding of cardiovascular adaptation and will serve as a tool for diagnostic and illustrative material for aiding health care professionals in implementing the best preventive measures to avoid serious side effects.