Early Detection and Treatment of Heart Disease with Innovative Wireless E-tattoo

Category Engineering

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A team of scientists from the University of Texas at Austin have developed a new innovative device: a wireless, comfortable e-tattoo for cardiac measurements. Early detection and treatment of heart diseases is essential for overall health and a better quality of life, but current monitoring devices are too expensive, bulky, and difficult to use. This new device provides hope for long-term, accurate monitoring of cardiac health.

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Cardiovascular, or heart, disease affects over 30 million adults in the United States. According to estimates from the World Health Organization (WHO), 17.9 million people died from heart disease in 2019. There are many different types of cardiovascular diseases, such as coronary heart disease and deep vein thrombosis, but some serious consequences can be avoided by early detection and timely treatment.

High cholesterol, high blood pressure, smoking, and type 2 diabetes all increase risk of heart disease.

Unfortunately, heart disease often goes undiagnosed until individuals experience severe symptoms, including heart attacks, arrhythmias, and heart failure, with a greater risk in people with high cholesterol and/or high blood pressure, smokers, and diabetics.

Existing cardiac monitoring devices are often expensive, bulky, rigid, and power-intensive, posing challenges for long-term usability. Therefore, scientists are now trying to develop non-invasive and accurate monitoring devices that can be used regularly without hindering day-to-day activities.

Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that 1 in 4 deaths in the US are cases of heart disease.

Fortunately, a group of scientists from the University of Texas at Austin has made significant progress in this area. They have developed a new device that is wireless, comfortable, and can measure multiple cardiac time intervals.

The team has been working on this technology since 2019 when they first published a study about the e-tattoo. But they have made a lot of progress since then.

IE spoke to the lead author of the study, Dr. Nanshu Lu, holder of the Frank and Kay Reese Endowed Professorship in Engineering, and Sarnab Bhattacharya, Ph.D. candidate, both from the Cockrell School of Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin.

In the United States, heart disease is still the leading cause of death for men and women.

"Heart disease is the deadliest disease in the U.S., accounting for 1 in every 5 deaths. Additionally, it is important to note that 20% of heart attacks are considered silent, meaning that damage occurs without apparent symptoms. However, there is hope, as 80% of heart disease and strokes can be prevented through early diagnosis and preemptive interventions," said Lu, emphasizing the importance of early diagnosis and preemptive interventions for heart diseases.

The American Heart Association estimates that heart disease costs the US healthcare system $219 billion every year.

Wearable e-tattoo for cardiac measurements .

The development of devices that can monitor cardiac measurements is essential to the early diagnosis and treatment of heart diseases.

"My parents are in their late 60s [and live] across the Pacific Ocean. Although I have bought them many wearables on the market, none of them is a medical grade which can reliably monitor their health or make a diagnosis," said Lu, discussing the team's motivation behind developing this innovative device.

The team was inspired by the need of early detection and monitoring devices for heart diseases for their parents, especially as their grandfather had a heart attack.

"Biomedical research has always been a topic of interest for me, especially because both my parents are practicing medical doctors. Apart from that, my grandfather suffered a heart attack, and there was a delay in taking him to the hospital as it was detected late. Fortunately, he made a full recovery. However, recall my father expressing regret over the lack of readily available early monitoring devices that could have significantly improved the ease of detection, treatment, and recovery. This makes me particularly interested in cardiovascular monitoring research," added Bhattacharya.

The prototype device uses ultrasonic transducers to measure the body movement and a flexible circuit board, and is powered by an off-the-shelf lithium polymer battery.

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