Blood pressure is one of the most important indicators of heart health, but measuring it isn’t very practical, as cuff devices have been the gold standard for decades. For this reason, a group of American scientists developed electronic tattoos to make this process more efficient.
“Blood pressure is the most important vital sign that can be tracked, but methods for doing it passively outside of the clinic, without a wristband, are very limited,” says Deji Akinwande, a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the UT. Austin and one of the co-leaders of the project.
The electronic tattoo from researchers at the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University can be worn comfortably on the wrist. It provides continuous blood pressure measurements with a level of accuracy that surpasses almost any option available on the market.
The so-called E-Tattoo also allows you to measure blood pressure in all kinds of situations: in times of high stress, during sleep, exercise, etc. and not only when the patient goes to a medical appointment. It is made of graphene, one of the strongest and thinnest materials in existence, and can adapt to the human body.
According to scientists, the electronic tattoo is comfortable to wear for long periods of time and does not slip.
“The tattoo sensor is light and discreet. You put it there. You don’t even see it and it doesn’t move,” says Roozbeh Jafari of Texas A&M University.
The researchers believe the device will be part of a larger push in medicine to use technology to detach patients from machines and collect more data wherever they are.
Metro spoke to Deji Akinwande to find out more.
“Taking blood pressure infrequently has many limitations, and it doesn’t tell us exactly how our bodies are working.”
— Roozbeh Jafari, professor of biomedical engineering, computer science and electrical engineering at Texas A&M University.
of people with high blood pressure go untreated worldwide, while 1.28 billion adults between the ages of 30 and 79 suffer from this disease.
– It adheres to the patient’s body, very close to the wrist.
-The device makes its measurements by sending an electrical current through the skin and then analyzing the body’s response, known as bioimpedance.
-There is a correlation between bioimpedance and changes in blood pressure which is related to changes in blood volume.
-Bioimpedance can be converted into blood pressure by machine learning methods.
-The team had to create a machine learning model to analyze the connection and get accurate blood pressure readings.
professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin
Q: What inspired you to develop the E-Tattoo?
– We developed the Graphene Electronic Tattoo a few years ago and realized that it has the electrical and mechanical properties necessary to provide clinically accurate blood pressure. Accordingly, we conducted research to demonstrate electronic blood pressure watermarking.
Q: Why is constant monitoring of blood pressure important?
– Many diseases, including cardiovascular disease, are reflected in blood pressure readings. And heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide. Therefore, it is crucial to monitor blood pressure constantly, which can serve as a proactive means of prevention.
Q: What are the advantages of the E-Tattoo compared to connected watches, for example?
– Smartwatches, until now, have not been able to provide clinically accurate blood pressure due to poor skin contact. Some use pressure-based methods, such as an arm cuff, which are uncomfortable to wear for a long time. Other smartwatches use light to infer blood pressure, which isn’t as effective with people of color. Graphene electronic tattooing overcomes these problems and provides clinically accurate blood pressure.
Q: What happens to the data collected by electronic tattoos?
– The data we currently have comes from voluntary subjects and is anonymous. Going forward, privacy and security will be built into the data collection protocol for practical use by consumers and in the clinical setting.