Wearable Cardiac Imaging ‘On the Go’

Engineers and physicians innovated a wearable ultrasound device that assesses the structure and function of the human heart. The wearable is the size of a postage stamp and can be worn for up to 24 hours. It even works with strenuous exercise. Currently, echocardiograms and ultrasound exams of the heart need trained technicians and bulky devices.

Based on custom AI algorithms, the device measures the amount of blood the heart pumps. Not pumping enough blood is at the root of most cardiovascular diseases. The work is described in the Jan. 25 issue of the journal Nature.

The new wearable provides real-time, automated insights into the heart’s pumping activity, even when a person is exercising. The unique design of the sensor used by the team makes it ideal for bodies in motion.

Cardiac diseases are the leading cause of death among the elderly and are also becoming more prevalent among the young based on lifestyle. The signs of cardiac diseases are hard to spot. Cardiac imaging is one of the most powerful tools for screening and diagnosing cardiac issues before they become problems.

The new system gathers information through a wearable patch as soft as human skin, designed for optimal adherence. It sends and receives the ultrasound waves used to generate a constant stream of images of the heart’s structure in real-time.

In the current iteration, the patch is connected through cables to a computer, which can download the data automatically while the patch is still on. The team has developed a wireless circuit for the patch, which will be covered in a forthcoming publication.

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