Influence of Ionic Concentrations on the ECG Evaluated with a Computer Model of the Heart
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) affects more than 30 million patients in the European Union and is characterized by a failure of the renal system to control the electrolyte concentrations in the blood and the whole body within the physiological limits. The altered electrolyte levels (e.g. potassium, calcium, sodium) have massive effects on the affected patients. Often, these effects cause severe consequences such as sudden cardiac death (SCD), which is the most frequent cause of death in the CKD population. SCD is defined as a natural, rapid, and unexpected cardiac death within an hour of symptom onset. Indeed, end-stage CKD patients have a 100-fold increased risk to die from SCD compared to the general population. More than 100,000 CKD patients die from SCD each year. These deaths might be in direct relation with the changes of ionic concentrations. However, up to now, it is very hard to investigate this since there is no device for continuous monitoring. As the electrocardiogram (ECG) changes with different ionic concentrations, the analysis of these signals can help to investigate the connection between changed ionic concentrations and the increased frequency of death.