Digital Models Of Our Organs Could Be The Health Record Of The Future


The Living Heart Project explores 3D models' potential to combat and prevent heart disease.

Lara Piras
  • 22 may 2014


Recent research from the World Health Organization revealed that 17.3 million people died from cardiovascular diseases worldwide in 2008, representing 30 percent of all global deaths. The American Heart Association report, Forecasting the Future of Cardiovascular Disease in the United States, believes the total direct medical costs of cardiovascular disease will reach $818.1 billion over the next three decades.

The study of the human body is complex and physicians are constantly researching and developing new ideas of how to combat and prevent disease. Normally, this is done by physically analyzing the anatomy of a human being, but a groundbreaking idea could change the face of medicine for good.


3D software design companies Dassault Systèmes and 3DEXPERIENCE have joined forces on a new venture they’ve named The Living Heart Project to try and combat “the biggest challenge in the medical science right now” – cardiovascular disease.

The project started by partnering with some of the best brain and heart experts in the industry to brainstorm and develop ideas. Over time, the teams developed a realistic 3D model of a human heart featuring software designed to make it function just like the real thing. The model captures the electrical and mechanical behavior of the heart in one of the most realistic and vivid ways yet to be seen.


The project is breaking new ground in the study of heart disease and personalized treatment, since researchers are currently limited at being able to predict a pacemaker’s effect on a patient before surgery, for example. These 3D designs could become the norm for diagnosing and treating heart conditions in hospitals all over the world, where doctors could simulate how a patient might respond to different types of treatment, reducing the risks and potential failures of medications and procedures used today. Instead of looking at pages of a patient’s medical history, a physician could consult the virtual model of the person’s heart.

Dr. James C. Perry, Professor of Pediatrics at University of California San Diego and Director of Electrophysiology and Adult CHD at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego explains,

We live in an exciting time with the capacity to simulate how a patient’s heart may respond to a wide range of interventions, sparing that individual and many others the uncertainties of their procedural outcome. This technology is a huge advancement that will expedite the translation of our basic scientific understanding of cardiac function into practical applications that promote improved health and safety.

Take a look at the video below to learn more about The Living Heart Project:

Sources, images: Dassault Systèmes, 3DEXPERIENCE


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