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The Sheffield culture guide written by in-the-know locals

Run For Your Life!

Dr Paul Morris staff webpage:

Twitter: @drmorriscardio

Coronary artery disease is the world’s leading cause of death and serious illness. It’s caused by a build-up of plaque - made up of fat, cholesterol and calcium - inside the coronary arteries which are like the heart’s fuel pipes. This type of disease causes angina, heart attacks and heart failure.

Dr Paul Morris is a cardiologist at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals and a Wellcome Trust Fellow and Senior Clinical Lecturer at the University of Sheffield. His research focuses on developing computer models of the cardiovascular system, specifically the coronary arteries. Using a medical imaging technique called coronary angiography, Dr Morris constructs a 3D computer model of the patient’s coronary arteries and applies complex mathematics - computational fluid dynamics (CFD) - to simulate the flow and pressure of blood inside the arteries. Using these methods, , Dr Morris and his colleagues can more accurately diagnose diseases such as coronary artery disease and microvascular disease - a disease that is very hard to detect using standard methods.

Dr Morris is working with medical physicist Dr David Randall to turn these 3D coronary artery models into a virtual reality experience. Dr Randall specialises in using virtual reality in medicine for medical training and public engagement. The virtual reality game they are developing together is called Run For Your Life! and takes the player on a race through arteries.

Angiogram image - during angiography, x-ray images of the coronary arteries are acquired while contrast dye is injected via a tube (catheter) inserted from an artery in the groin or wrist. The resulting x-ray ‘movie’ outlines the arteries showing areas of disease.

3D model of a coronary artery - the angiogram images are used to create the 3D model of the coronary arteries for CFD analysis. The result is an analysis of pressure dynamics inside the coronary arteries.

Run For Your Life! virtual reality game - demo video
Activity recommended for ages 10+

Watch Dr Paul Morris introduce a demo of the virtual reality game Run For Your Life! currently in development.

Dr Randall and Dr Morris are working to produce a full-featured version of this artery-racing game so that it can be used to educate the public about their own cardiovascular health.”

In the full-featured version of the game, members of the public will be able to race one another through coronary artery simulations that will can be based on the racer’s own coronary risk factor profile (influenced by age, weight, smoker, lifestyle etc.) which they can enter before racing. The ‘disease severity’ in the artery will be based on this risk factor profile, meaning that those with risk factors for coronary disease will find it harder to move quickly through the artery than those in the lower-risk category. At the end racers will be given personalised feedback relating to their own risk factor profile, how this links to heart disease and the benefits of correcting their risk factors.

A second, patient-education version will also be created. This will allow heart patients to travel through simulations of their own coronary arteries. They will be able to see their coronary disease face-to-face, and it is hoped that this will help to encourage healthy-lifestyle decisions.

Ask Dr Paul Morris and Dr David Randall about cardiovascular health and developing 3D models of arteries and other body parts

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