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Wearable patch to monitor blood pressure inside body
The patch uses ultrasound waves to continuously record the diameter of a pulsing blood vessel located as deep as four centimeters below the skin

A research team led by the University of California, San Diego has created a wearable ultrasound patch that can continuously monitor central blood pressure in major arteries as deep as four centimeters below the skin.

The findings were published on 11 September 2018 in Nature Biomedical Engineering.

The UC San Diego-led team has developed a soft, stretchy ultrasound patch that can be worn on the skin and provide accurate, precise readings of central blood pressure each time, even while the user is moving. And it can still get a good reading through fatty tissue.

The device measures central blood pressure—which differs from the blood pressure that is measured with an inflatable cuff strapped around the upper arm, known as peripheral blood pressure. Central blood pressure is the pressure in the central blood vessels, which send blood directly from the heart to other major organs throughout the body. Medical experts consider central blood pressure more accurate than peripheral blood pressure and also say it is better at predicting heart disease.

Applications include real-time, continuous monitoring of blood pressure changes in patients with heart or lung disease, as well as patients who are critically ill or undergoing surgery. The patch uses ultrasound, so it could potentially be used to non-invasively track other vital signs and physiological signals from places deep inside the body.

Currently, methods of measuring central blood pressure is invasive, which involve a catheter inserted into a blood vessel in a patient’s arm, groin or neck and guiding it to the heart.

Physicians involved with the study say the non-invasive technology would be useful in various inpatient procedures.

“This has the potential to be a great addition to cardiovascular medicine,” said Dr. Brady Huang, a co-author on the paper and radiologist at UC San Diego Health. “In the operating room, especially in complex cardiopulmonary procedures, accurate real-time assessment of central blood pressure is needed—this is where this device has the potential to supplant traditional methods.”

The patch uses ultrasound waves to continuously record the diameter of a pulsing blood vessel located as deep as four centimeters below the skin. This information then gets translated into a waveform using customised software. Each peak, valley and notch in the waveform, as well as the overall shape of the waveform, represents a specific activity or event in the heart. These signals provide a lot of detailed information to doctors assessing a patient’s cardiovascular health. They can be used to predict heart failure, determine if blood supply is fine, etc.

Researchers note that the patch still has a long way to go before it reaches the clinic. Improvements include integrating a power source, data processing units and wireless communication capability into the patch.

The team is looking to collaborate with experts in data processing and wireless technologies for the next phase of the project.

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APBN Editorial Calendar 2018
January:
Obesity / Outlook for 2018
February:
Searching for the fountain of youth
March:
Women in Science - Making a difference
April:
Digestive health in the 21st century - Trust your guts
May:
Dental health - The root to good health
June:
Cancer - Therapies and strategies for better patient outcomes
July:
Water management - Technologies for biotech and pharmaceutical industries
August:
Regenerative technology - Meat of the future
September:
Doctor Robot - The digital healthcare revolution
October:
Bones / Breast cancer
November:
Liver health / Top science research nations & institutions
December:
AIDS / Breakthrough of the year/Emerging trends
Editorial calendar is subjected to changes.
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