A three-dimensional constitutive law is proposed for the myocardium. Its formulation is based on a structural approach in which the total strain energy of the tissue is the sum of the strain energies of its constituents: the muscle fibers, the collagen fibers and the fluid matrix which embeds them. The ensuing material law expresses the specific structural and mechanical properties of the tissue, namely, the spatial orientation of the comprising fibers, their waviness in the unstressed state and their stress-strain behavior when stretched. Having assumed specific functional forms for the distribution of the fibers spatial orientation and waviness, the results of biaxial mechanical tests serve for the estimation of the material constants appearing in the constitutive equations. A very good fit is obtained between the measured and the calculated stresses, indicating the suitability of the proposed model for describing the mechanical behavior of the passive myocardium. Moreover, the results provide general conclusions concerning the structural basis for the tissue overall mechanical properties, the main of which is that the collagen matrix, though comprising a relatively small fraction of the whole tissue volume, is the dominant component accounting for its stiffness.

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