Blood pressure e-tattoo promises continuous, mobile monitoring

Credit: University of Texas at Austin

Blood pressure is one of the most important indicators of heart health, but it is difficult to measure frequently and reliably outside of a clinical setting. For decades, cuff-based devices that contract around the arm to give a reading have been the gold standard. But now, researchers at the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University have developed an electronic tattoo that can be worn comfortably on the wrist for hours and provides continuous blood pressure measurements with a level of accuracy that exceeds almost any option available on the market today. .

“Blood pressure is the most important vital sign you can measure, but the methods for doing it outside the clinic passively, without a cuff, are very limited,” said Deji Akinwande, professor in the UT Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. . Austin and one of the co-leaders of the project, which is documented in a new paper published today in Nature Nanotechnology.

High blood pressure can lead to serious heart problems if left untreated. It can be difficult to capture with a traditional blood pressure check because it only measures a moment in time, a single data point.

Credit: Nature Nanotechnology (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s41565-022-01145-w

“Measuring blood pressure infrequently has many limitations and does not provide accurate information about how our bodies are functioning,” said Roozbeh Jafari, professor of biomedical engineering, computer science and electrical engineering at Texas A&M and another co-leader of the project. .

The continuous monitoring of the e-tattoo allows blood pressure measurements in all kinds of situations: in times of high stress, during sleep, exercise, etc. It can provide thousands more measurements than any device so far.

Mobile health monitoring has made huge leaps in recent years, mainly due to technologies like smartwatches. These devices use metallic sensors that take readings based on LED light sources that shine through the skin.

However, top smartwatches are not yet ready for blood pressure monitoring. This is because watches slip on the wrist and can be far from arteries, making it difficult to deliver accurate readings. And light-based measurements may fail in people with darker skin tones and/or larger wrists.

Graphene is one of the strongest and thinnest materials out there, and it’s a key ingredient in e-tattoo. It is similar to the graphite found in pencils, but the atoms are precisely arranged in thin layers.

Electronic tattoos make sense as a vehicle for mobile blood pressure monitoring because they reside in a sticky, stretchy material that wraps around the sensors, which is comfortable to wear for long periods and does not slip.

“The sensor for the tattoo is light and unobtrusive. You put it there. You don’t even see it and it doesn’t move,” Jafari said. “You need the sensor to stay in the same place, because if you happen to move it, the measurements will be different.”

The device makes its measurements by firing an electrical current into the skin and analyzing the body’s response, which is known as bioimpedance. There is a correlation between bioimpedance and changes in blood pressure that has to do with changes in blood volume. However, the correlation isn’t particularly obvious, so the team had to build a machine learning model to analyze the connection and get accurate blood pressure readings.

In medicine, blood pressure monitoring without cuffs is the “holy grail,” said Jafari, but there is still no viable solution on the market. It is part of a larger effort in medicine to use technology to free patients from machines while collecting more data wherever they are, allowing them to go from room to room, clinic to clinic and still receive personalized care.

“All this data can help create a digital twin to model the human body, predict and show how it might react and respond to treatments over time,” said Akinwande.

Is a blood pressure reading more accurate at home or in the clinic?

More information:
Roozbeh Jafari, Cuffless continuous blood pressure monitoring through graphene bioimpedance tattoos, Nature Nanotechnology (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s41565-022-01145-w.

Provided by the University of Texas at Austin

Quote: Blood pressure e-tattoo promises continuous mobile monitoring (2022, June 20) retrieved June 21, 2022 at .html

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