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2-min read

Heart Health: Scientists Develop First 'e-Tattoo' to Measure Both ECG and SCG

The e-Tattoo is a device, which can be placed over the heart for extended periods with little or no discomfort, measures cardiac health with the help of simultaneous electrocardiograph (ECG) and seismocardiograph (SCG) readings.

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Updated:June 27, 2019, 1:37 PM IST
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Heart Health: Scientists Develop First 'e-Tattoo' to Measure Both ECG and SCG
Representative Image (Photo courtesy: AFP Relaxnews/ sdominick / Istock.com)
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Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the leading cause of death worldwide, killing an estimated 18 million people every year. Four out of five CVD deaths are due to heart attacks and strokes, according to the World Health Organization, which warns that individuals at risk may demonstrate “raised blood pressure, glucose, and lipids as well as overweight and obesity.”

“Identifying those at highest risk of CVDs and ensuring they receive appropriate treatment can prevent premature deaths,” the world health body says.

Scientists are hoping a new wearable technology made from stretchy, lightweight material could not only make monitoring heart health easier but more accurate as well.

Developed by engineers at University of Texas and led by Nanshu Lu in the Cockrell School of Engineering, the technology is the “latest incarnation of Lu's electronic tattoo technology, a graphene-based wearable device that can be placed on the skin to measure a variety of body responses, from electrical to biomechanical signals,” Science Daily reports.

The device, which can be placed over the heart for extended periods with little or no discomfort, measures cardiac health with the help of simultaneous electrocardiograph (ECG) and seismocardiograph (SCG) readings.

While ECG) is used to record the rates of electrical activity produced each time the heart beats, SCG is a measurement technique that uses 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.

"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.

ECG readings alone are not accurate enough for determining heart health and the SCG indicates the accuracy of the ECG readings.

Unlike soft e-tattoos for ECG, other sensors such as the SCG sensor are still made from nonstretchable materials, making them bulky and uncomfortable to wear.

Lu and her team's e-tattoo is made of a piezoelectric polymer called polyvinylidene fluoride, capable of generating its own electric charge in response to mechanical stress. The device also includes 3D digital image correlation technology that is used to map chest vibrations in order to identify the best location on the chest to place the e-tattoo.

The device can be worn for days, providing constant heart monitoring.

Lu and her team 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.

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