Computational modeling and simulation studies can facilitate the advancement of cardiovascular research by complementing experimental studies. Through computational studies, the researcher may formulate hypotheses which may be subsequently tested through experimental studies or the researcher may develop and evaluate inverse modeling algorithms for determining important cardiovascular parameters from experimental data. Experimental studies, in turn, permit the researcher to construct more accurate computational models thereby improving the researcher's understanding of the cardiovascular system and ability to devise new experimental hypotheses and inverse modeling algorithms.
The general aim of this document is to introduce the Research CardioVascular SIMulator (RCVSIM) software which may be downloaded from PhysioNet (www.physionet.org) - an NIH-funded national research resource that provides well characterized, experimental data sets and open-source software for their analysis. RCVSIM is capable of generating reasonable human pulsatile hemodynamic waveforms, cardiac function and venous return curves, and beat-to-beat hemodynamic variability. The data simulated by RCVSIM is written in a format which is identical to the experimental data sets. As such, the open-source data analysis software may be readily applied to the simulated data as well. The data generated by RCVSIM may be viewed as they are being calculated (on-line viewing) or any time after they have been calculated (off-line viewing) with the WAVE display system (which is also provided by PhysioNet) and Gnuplot. The RCVSIM software is open-source and extensively commented and includes Linux binaries that may be executed at the Linux or MATLAB prompts. It should also be possible to compile the source code to create binaries that may be executed on Unix platforms (e.g., Solaris, SunOS). (Note that MATLAB is required for compiling the source code.) RCVSIM has been previously employed in cardiovascular research for the development and evaluation of system identification methods aimed at the dynamical characterization of autonomic regulatory mechanisms [4,,8].
This document specifically explains how to install and use the RCVSIM software and describes the open-source code and each of its functions so that RCVSIM may be easily extended and modified by the researcher to achieve his desired research objective. In Section 2, a brief description of the components and parameters of the human cardiovascular model is given. (A detailed description may be found in [4,7,].) In Section 3, a description of the source code and an explanation of how to alter it are provided. In Section 4, detailed instructions on software installation and compilation are outlined. In Section 5, instructions on software execution, including many examples, are given. Finally, in Section 6, an example illustrating how the software may be utilized in cardiovascular research is provided. Note that if the researcher is interested in executing the software but not editing it, then he may skip Section 3 without loss of continuity.