Copyright © 2011 Nicholas P. Charteris and Bradley J. Roth. This is an open access article distributed under the
Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Researchers have suggested that the fate of a shock-induced wave front at the
edge of a “virtual anode” (a region hyperpolarized by the shock) is a key factor determining success or failure during defibrillation of the heart. In this paper, we use a simple one-dimensional computer model to examine propagation speed through a hyperpolarized region. Our goal is to test the hypothesis that rapid propagation through a virtual anode can cause failure of propagation at the edge of the virtual anode. The calculations support this hypothesis and suggest that the time constant of the sodium inactivation gate is an important parameter. These results may be significant in understanding the mechanism of the upper limit of vulnerability.