Heart Attacks can give you Mathematics

James Keener (Mathematics, University of Utah)

(February 15, 2011 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM)

Heart Attacks can give you Mathematics


What is similar about football fans, a forest fire and a heart attack? The answer: Certain features of their behavior have a common mathematical description. As a result we can learn something about heart attacks from the behavior of crazed football fans.

A heart attack occurs when there is an occlusion of a coronary artery leading to tissue damage (and is rarely the result of math anxiety!). A heart attack is fatal when there is a subsequent disruption of the normal electrical signal of the heart, leading to fibrillation.

The purpose of this talk is to show how mathematics can help us understand more about fatal cardiac arrhythmias, how they occur, what they are, and how they might be eliminated or prevented.