Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin have developed a new chest wearable that can obtain both electrocardiogram and seismocardiogram data from the underlying heart. While basic ECG can be monitored via smart watches, no other wearable combines it with seismocardiography, which would conventionally be obtained by listening to the heart using a stethoscope. Pairing both measurements into one device allows clinicians to get a more complete picture of cardiac health, while freeing patients to go about their daily activities wearing an unobtrusive wearable.
Wearables are changing how we monitor patients and obtain clinical data, replacing the inconvenient medical appointments and bulky electronics of the past. Simply applying a wearable to the skin could let patients go about their daily business while providing valuable health data that could reveal a health problem and prompt early treatment.
“Most heart conditions are not very obvious. The damage is being done in the background and we don’t even know it,” said Nanshu Lu, a researcher involved in the study. “If we can have continuous, mobile monitoring at home, then we can do early diagnosis and treatment, and if that can be done, 80% of heart disease can be prevented.”
This latest offering is a flexible “e-tattoo” that conforms to the skin of the chest and which can provide continuous cardiac monitoring for at least 24 hours, although the penny-sized battery can last up to 40 hours and can be swapped out by the patient if required. The flexible patch weighs just 2.5 grams and can wirelessly transmit the cardiac data.
The wearable can obtain two types of cardiac data, electrical and mechanical, which together provide a more complete picture of heart health. These are electrocardiography and seismocardiography data. The latter type of data is acoustic, is generated by the heart valves, and is typically heard as the characteristic “lub dub” sound through a stethoscope.
“Those two measurements, electrical and mechanical, together can provide a much more comprehensive and complete picture of what’s happening with the heart,” said Lu. “There are many more heart characteristics that could be extracted out of the two synchronously measured signals in a noninvasive manner.”
Study in journal Advanced Electronic Materials: A Chest-Conformable, Wireless Electro-Mechanical E-Tattoo for Measuring Multiple Cardiac Time Intervals