Propagation of electromechanical waves in excitable heart muscles follows complex spatiotemporal patterns holding the key to understanding life-threatening arrhythmias and other cardiac conditions. Accurate volumetric mapping of cardiac wave propagation is currently hampered by fast heart motion, particularly in small model organisms. Here we demonstrate that ultrafast four-dimensional imaging of cardiac mechanical wave propagation in entire beating murine heart can be accomplished by sparse optoacoustic sensing with high contrast, ∼115-µm spatial and submillisecond temporal resolution. We extract accurate dispersion and phase velocity maps of the cardiac waves and reveal vortex-like patterns associated with mechanical phase singularities that occur during arrhythmic events induced via burst ventricular electric stimulation. The newly introduced cardiac mapping approach is a bold step toward deciphering the complex mechanisms underlying cardiac arrhythmias and enabling precise therapeutic interventions.

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