E-tattoo to Fight Heart Disease

The chest e-tattoo, a new flexible medical device, can give a significant boost to the prevention of heart disease.

Maria Zavialova

Cardiovascular diseases stand as the foremost culprit behind global mortality rates. However, unobtrusive, ambulatory, and all-encompassing monitoring of the heart remains an ongoing challenge. This is due to the inflexible, cumbersome nature of conventional electronics or their excessive energy consumption, unsuitable for prolonged measurements. But fear not, a team of researchers from the University of Texas at Austin has ingeniously devised a cutting-edge solution — an ultrathin, lightweight e-tattoo. This remarkable device securely adheres to the chest, enabling continuous mobile monitoring of the heart in non-clinical environments.

Most heart conditions are not very obvious. The damage is being done in the background and we don’t even know it. If we can have continuous, mobile monitoring at home, then we can do early diagnosis and treatment. If that can be done, 80% of heart disease can be prevented.

Nanshu Lu, professor in the Department of Aerospace and Engineering Mechanics and lead author of the study

How e-tattoo is designed

Building upon the success of the previous chest electronic tattoo project, this latest iteration takes wireless and mobile capabilities to the next level. Its seamless operation relies on a network of compact yet powerful circuits and sensors, intricately interconnected. The device effortlessly adheres to the chest, facilitated by a specialized medical patch.

електронне татуювання электроннная татуировка e-tattoo

The e-tattoo, weighing a mere 2.5 grams, operates efficiently on a battery the size of a penny. With an impressive lifespan of over 40 hours, the battery can be conveniently replaced by users themselves.

This device enables two essential heart measurements. The electrocardiogram (ECG) captures the heart’s electrical signals, while the seismocardiogram (SCG) detects the acoustic signals produced by the heart valves. Its lightweight construction and chest-friendly design guarantee unparalleled comfort during usage.

Benefits of electronic tattoo

While ECG measurements can be conveniently obtained using mobile devices such as smartwatches, monitoring SCG traditionally necessitates the use of a stethoscope. Yet, there is currently no mobile solution that emulates the functionality of a stethoscope or performs both measurements simultaneously.

Those two measurements, electrical and mechanical, together can provide a much more comprehensive and complete picture of what’s happening with the heart. There are many more heart characteristics that could be extracted out of the two synchronously measured signals in a noninvasive manner.

Nanshu Lu, professor in the Department of Aerospace and Engineering Mechanics and lead author of the study

Monitoring these two factors and synchronizing them allows for the precise measurement of cardiac temporal intervals. They serve as crucial indicators of heart conditions and other related problems.

Researchers have already conducted successful trials of the device on five healthy patients in real-world environments. The testing yielded remarkably low measurement errors compared to currently available monitoring alternatives. The next phase entails further rigorous testing, validation of initial findings, and expansion to diverse patient populations.

As per the researchers’ insights, these chest e-tattoos have the potential to revolutionize long-term ambulatory monitoring of the cardiovascular system. This advanced class of soft bioelectronics possesses the capability to overcome numerous limitations associated with conventional health monitoring devices, thus paving the way for its widespread adoption in the near future.

Just a reminder that recent research findings highlight that adolescents who experience happiness tend to enjoy better heart health in their adult years.

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