Modelling the formation and movement of arterial plaques

WHO classifies coronary arterial (or ischemic heart) disease (a commonly known symptom of which is the "Heart Attack") as the leading cause of deaths worldwide. It is more than deaths due to lung cancers, diarrhoeal diseases, road injuries and TB, put together. This condition implies there is a reduced supply of blood to the heart muscles, which pumps the blood to the entire body.  The primary cause of the reduction is the formation of plaques in the blood vessels which block the flow. Formation of plaques is known to be closely related to the lifestyle (apart from other factors) and can happen over several years.  Most plaques that form are benign as they do not restrict the flow or move or "dissolve" away.  It is only when the plaques reduce the diameter of the arteries does the problem manifest itself as chest-pains or heart attacks. 

The flow of blood in an artery leads to shear stress on its walls.  Regions of low shear stress are known to be prone to the formation of plaques. Flow in the heart is also regulated by a network of pathways that determine the overall pumping requirements of the body (during rest and exercise). Flow and enzymes released in the heart vessels, therefore, have a closed coupling with the formation of plaques. However, this relation has not been quantified to the extent it can be used for diagnostic purposes.  The aim of this project is to develop a theoretical framework to predict the formation of plaques given some patient specific physiological conditions and observed biomarkers in the blood.

Proposing Faculty
Research Area
  • Computational Biology
  • Computational Flow Modelling (CFD)
  • Fluid Mechanics and Stability
  • Rheology
  • Systems Biology