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Smart Autonomous Multi Modal Sensors for Vital Signs Monitoring

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Wearable biosensor enables remote care of cardiac patients

New medical device implanted on patients’ skin allows healthcare professionals to review electrocardiogram and abnormal heart events diagnosis data in real time.

Digital Economy
Health

Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the leading cause of death in the EU. According to the European Society of Cardiology, there are more than 6 million new cases of CVDs in the EU and more than 11 million in Europe as a whole, every year.

IoT data for healthier hearts

Ventricular arrhythmias – abnormal heartbeats originating in the lower heart chambers – account for roughly 85 % of sudden deaths unless treated within seconds. However, most sudden cardiac deaths occur in patients who do not meet current guidelines for prevention with cardioverter-defibrillator technology. Long-term electrocardiogram monitoring is the standard criterion for the diagnosis of ventricular arrhythmias and for the development of successful CVD therapies. “The Internet of Things has revolutionised personalised medicine to several diseases, but cardiovascular care lags,” notes Dr Kafil Mahmood Razeeb, coordinator of the EU-funded SmartVista project. “We aimed to change this by unveiling a reliable, implantable smart sensor that can monitor the intermittent abnormalities and detect critical cardiac behaviours which, in extreme cases, can lead to sudden death.” The real-time data collected through the IoT system can be processed and documented to make an insightful report on patient health. Together with previous data like medical history and hospitalisation, the real-time data also serve as input for designing prognosis algorithms that can predict the evolution of the disease.

Biosensor innovations offer new possibilities for CVD monitoring

“SmartVista’s wearable biosensor helps individuals monitor their own heart health, while also supporting remote patient monitoring. Like any other type of wearable sensor, our device measures other vital signs such as respiratory rate, temperature and oxygen flow,” explains Dr Razeeb. “The difference is that our sensor does not require a wired power supply; it is powered by body heat.” While monitoring various vital signals, the SmartVista biosensor is the first of its kind that integrates flexible micro-thermoelectric devices that convert human body waste heat into electricity. To ensure the autonomy of the smart system, the micro-thermoelectric modules were integrated with a printable battery to store the electrical energy. The SmartVista biosensor also integrates strain sensors made of nanocomposites, a blend of a 1D/2D nanomaterial and a polymer. In particular, the strain sensors were grown on highly flexible, stretchable and foldable polymeric substrates that can conform to any shape to be easily embedded in the human body. Besides high stretchability, they demonstrated high sensitivity (gauge factor), stability and the ability to operate at low voltages. Body movements like those caused by finger, knee and wrist and breathing motions generated sufficiently intense signals that could be registered and analysed. “Our smart autonomous sensor is completely non-invasive and flexible, offering patient comfort, ease of use and painless monitoring. Round-the-clock monitoring increases the autonomy of the elderly population, increases their quality of life and reduces hospital visits,” remarks Dr Kafil Mahmood Razeeb. “Continuous improvements in wearable medical devices such as those made by SmartVista could make them play a bigger part in our everyday lives.”

Keywords

SmartVista, CVD, wearable biosensor, electrocardiogram, ventricular arrhythmias, cardiovascular diseases, thermoelectric device, printable battery, nanocomposites

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