Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Abhijit Patwardhan


Stretch is known to result in an electrically less stable ventricular substrate, yet the reported effects of stretch on measured electrophysiological parameters have been inconsistent and even contradictory. The goal of this study was to evaluate the effects of acute mechanical stretch on cardiac electrical features thought to be key in generation of arrhythmia, namely restitution of action potential duration (APD), electrical memory, and onset of alternans.

Microelectrodes were used to record intracellular potentials pre, during, and post-stretch from isolated right ventricular tissues from swine. In separate experiments, the effects of two levels of stretch were quantified. Pacing protocols employing explicit diastolic interval (DI) control and cycle length (CL) control were used to obtain measures of restitution of APD, memory, and alternans of APD. Stretching the tissue had varying effects on APD, restitution and memory. Stretch increased APD, restitution slopes and memory by as much as 24, 30 and 53 % in some cases, while it decreased these by up to 18, 37 and 81 % in others. During stretch, alternans of APD were observed in some cases, which occurred at slower rates of activation than before stretch. Histology of tissue samples showed localized changes in orientation of cells relative to the direction of stretch.

Our results show that among individual trials, stretch altered the measured electrophysiological properties, sometimes markedly. However, when pooled together, these changes cancelled each other and the averages showed no statistically significant difference after stretch. A potential mechanism that explains this divergent and inconsistent response to stretch is the presence of local, micron level, variation in orientation of myocytes. Upon stretch, these divergent effects likely increase dispersion of repolarization diffusely and might thus be the reason behind the consistently observed increase in arrhythmic substrate after stretch.