Some cardiovascular and non-cardiovascular drugs frequently cause excessive prolongation of the cardiac action potential (AP) and lead to the development of early afterdepolarisations (EADs), which trigger lethal ventricular arrhythmias. Combining computer simulations in APs with numerical calculations based on dynamical system theory, we investigated stability changes of APs observed in a paced human ventricular myocyte model by decreasing and/or increasing the rapid (IKr) and slow (IKs) components of delayed rectifying K+ current. Upon reducing IKr, the APs without EADs (no-EAD response) showed gradual prolongation of AP duration (APD), and were annihilated without AP configuration changes due to the occurrence of saddle-node bifurcations. This annihilation caused a transition to an AP with EADs as a new stable steady state. Furthermore, reducing repolarisation currents (repolarisation reserve attenuation) evoked multi-stable states consisting of APs with different APDs, and caused multiple hysteretic dynamics. Depending on initial ion circumstances within ventricular myocytes, these multi-stable AP states might increase the local/global heterogeneity of AP repolarisations in the ventricle. Thus, the EAD-induced arrhythmias with repolarisation reserve attenuation might be attributed to the APD variability caused by multi-stability in cardiac AP dynamics.
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