Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. About 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–that’s 1 in every 4 deaths. To prevent or treat heart disease, regular monitoring of heart is important for people patients suffering from or at risk of heart disease. However, current procedures to monitor heart disease means the patient needs to go to the doctor’s office simply to get an ECG. Moreover, electrocardiograph (ECG) readings alone aren’t accurate enough for determining heart health, but they provide additional information when combined with Seismocardiography (SCG) signal recordings.
To solve this problem, scientists have been developing wearable sensors that patients can use to keep track of their heart health over time. But many of these devices have been cumbersome or uncomfortable. Now, researchers from the University of Texas at Austin have designed a lightweight wearable material that could make heart health monitoring easier and more accurate than the existing ECG machines. The research team was led by Nanshu Lu in the Cockrell School of Engineering, reports UT News.
The new electronic tattoo (e-tattoo) is a graphene-based wearable device that can be placed on the skin to measure a variety of body responses, from electrical to biomechanical signals.
The device is so lightweight and stretchable that it can be placed over the heart for extended periods with little or no discomfort. It also measures cardiac health in two ways, taking electrocardiograph and seismocardiograph readings simultaneously. SCG is a measurement technique using chest vibrations associated with heartbeats. Powered remotely by a smartphone, the e-tattoo is the first ultrathin and stretchable technology to measure both ECG and SCG, said UT News report.
“We can get much greater insight into heart health by the synchronous collection of data from both sources,” said Lu, an associate professor in the departments of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics and Biomedical Engineering.
Lu and her team are already working on improvements to data collection and storage for the device, as well as ways to power the e-tattoo wirelessly for longer periods. They recently developed a smartphone app that not only stores the data safely but can also show a heart beating on the screen in real time.
The research team reported on their newest e-tattoo in a recent issue of Advanced Science.