Easy-to-Wear ECG Patch Tracks Heart Health

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 1, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- A new, more comfortable wearable electrocardiogram (ECG) device could be on its way.

Researchers from Australia and India have created a compact, lightweight, gel-free hexagonal-shaped ECG patch that they say is ideally suited for point-of-care diagnostics.

For those at risk, having a wearable device that can detect heart problems and assess overall cardiac health can save lives.

The research team also integrated their device with wireless Bluetooth communication for remote sensing capabilities.

“The potential applications are where it gets really exciting,” said study author Peter Francis Mathew Elango, a PhD student in functional materials and microsystems at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia.

“These portable ECG patches could revolutionize remote and ambulatory health care, and perhaps even preventive medicine," Elango added in a news release from the American Institute of Physics.

"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,” he explained.

Typically, “wet” electrodes are used in such devices. They include a conductive gel to enhance electrical signaling. But that also makes them uncomfortable to wear because they irritate the skin and tend to dry out.

This study focused on the advantages of using active dry electrodes for ECG signaling.

“Dry electrodes offer some significant advantages,” Elango said. “They prioritize user comfort, remain durable over time and reduce the likelihood of skin irritation. These attributes make them ideal for continuous monitoring, a crucial feature for wearable ECG devices.”

The researchers considered how the performance of dry electrode sensors is affected by the contact area, conductivity and stability of the electrical contact.

“We did a deep dive into the world of wearable ECG devices,” Elango noted. “We focused on a critical aspect, how the design and materials of the electrodes impact their performance, and the findings were quite illuminating.”

The report was published Oct. 31 in the journal Applied Physics Reviews.

Nearly 200 million people around the world have heart disease, the researchers noted.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more on electrocardiograms.

SOURCE: American Institute of Physics, news release, Oct. 31, 2023

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