Ventricular myocardium serves as the functional tissue of the heart wall. Driven by intracellular calcium waves, the tissue rhythmically contracts to finite strains. Modelling this behaviour is a key step toward modelling the complex, coupled electro-chemo-mechanical behaviour of the heart.
In this exposition, we present a chemo-mechanical formulation posed within the general framework of continuum thermodynamics for describing and studying the active response of the myocardium. Following the recent work of Holzapfel and Ogden (2009), we treat the passive mechanical response of the tissue as non-homogeneous, orthotropic, nonlinear elastic and nearly-incompressible. We then introduce, via a multiplicative decomposition of the deformation gradient (Ambrosi and Pezzuto, 2011), an "active strain" to model the active response of the myocardium. We carefully consider physiological facts to arrive at a suitable functional form for this active strain in terms of active contraction of cardiac muscle fibres. The active fibre contraction is related to the chemical kinetics of crossbridge cycling in cardiac muscles, which we model by a set of ordinary differential equations (Rice et al., 2008).
In particular, we will show that the model satisfies key physical properties, including obeying the second law of thermodynamics and ellipticity of the total stress. We conclude with some preliminary numerical results from a finite element numerical implementation of the model, demonstrating aspects of the coupled active response of the myocardium.