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Novel Wearable ECG Patch Enhances Point-of-Care Diagnostics

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 01 Nov 2023
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Image: Schematic of the wearable and wireless dry electrode ECG device attached onto the skin (Photo courtesy of Applied Physics Reviews)
Image: Schematic of the wearable and wireless dry electrode ECG device attached onto the skin (Photo courtesy of Applied Physics Reviews)

Almost 200 million individuals worldwide are afflicted with coronary heart disease, which is responsible for one out of every six fatalities. The emergence of wearable health-monitoring devices equipped with electrocardiograms (ECGs) to measure heart rate is, therefore, a crucial development. These wearables can detect heart-related issues and assess cardiovascular health, saving both lives and hospital expenses. Building on this, researchers have now introduced a groundbreaking wearable ECG patch that offers enhanced diagnostic capabilities at the point of care.

Researchers from RMIT University (Melbourne, Australia) and Annamalai University (Tamil Nadu, India) have come up with a new electrode design that promises major improvements in wearable electrocardiograms. Traditional ECG devices typically use Ag/AgCl or "wet" electrodes, which require a conductive gel to improve electrical signaling. However, these can be uncomfortable, cause skin irritation, and are subject to drying out. The researchers chose to focus on the benefits of utilizing active dry electrodes for capturing ECG signals, and their work has resulted in a promising prototype.

The researchers looked at how the performance of dry electrode sensors could be impacted by factors such as contact area, conductivity, and the stability of the electrical contact. The research team explored different types of tight space geometry-based dry electrodes and various electrode geometries, analyzing how these variables affected ECG sensing. They also investigated the role of different body parts on the ECG readings. Following thorough testing, the researchers designed a small, lightweight ECG patch with a hexagonal shape that doesn't require gel, making it well-suited for point-of-care diagnostics. This new design also includes wireless Bluetooth technology, allowing for remote monitoring.

“The potential applications are where it gets really exciting,” said researcher Peter Francis Mathew Elango. “These portable ECG patches could revolutionize remote and ambulatory healthcare, and perhaps even preventive medicine. They’re light, they can wirelessly transmit data, and they’re adept at discerning various states of rest or activity. Whether used in a clinical setting, seamlessly integrated into everyday attire, or worn as wearable devices, they could redefine how we monitor cardiac health.”

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RMIT University
Annamalai University

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