From Cuff to Catheter to Postage Stamp – How we monitor the heart
That bulky cuff the nurse wraps around your arm allows a quick and non-invasive measurement of your blood pressure. Because it’s my heart, I never complain that the cuff is too tight. Not even when my arm aches as a result. I simply wait for the pulse to restart, which means the release of pressure. Then come the familiar words, “You’re 130/80,” my common result.
Now if I had a significant heart problem that needed to be monitored daily, carrying around a bulky cuff for hourly testing would be cumbersome. I imagine it would be easy to “forget” such a problematic routine under a busy schedule. But why would you be placing your self under the stress of a busy schedule, if you needed to monitor your heart? You wouldn’t! So something second best, like more frequent visits to the doctor’s office, would step into the problem.
What if there was a simple stick-on patch, about the size of a postage stamp, that you could place on your neck? It’s coming.
Heart Test Patch
Medical research team at the University of California, San Diego, under the leadership of Sheng Xu, have developed such a patch. Currently under testing, it would make it a lot easier to monitor heart conditions. Eventually, the patch would help keep track of other vital organs – liver, lungs and brain. The research of Xu and his colleagues, published in Nature Biomedical Engineering, describes some of the benefits.
The patch could monitor blood pressure from different parts of the body. However placed on the neck, next to the large internal jugular vein, the monitor works best. A heart catheterization is much more invasive. It is generally reserved for serious heart issues and requires sedation. But in testing the small silicon elastomer patch, there was accuracy far above the acceptable margin of error. There is also no chance of the infection potential to the insertion of the catheter. The patch additionally provides more information. Information that would be helpful for measuring conditions like hypertension or a history of heart attack.
Far Reaching Patch
The patch emits ultrasonic waves that penetrate the skin and reflect off tissue and blood underneath current location. Once sent back to the sensor, these reflections are communicated to a laptop, which processes all blood pressure data instantaneously. Currently, the connection to the laptop is necessary. A future refinement will communicate the data wirelessly. There is also the potential for monitoring complex mechanical parts in large machines or airplane engines. Researchers work to provide medical monitoring that is less invasive and more convenient so that greater oversight to the function of the body might be normal.
Alliant Replicates in Kind
At Alliant we monitor the health of your business network remotely. Noninvasive to the max! All the vital components of your business network send data 24×7 to our Network Operating Center. Evaluated data either indicates “all is well,” or sends red-flags of concern so that we can begin operating before you even know there’s a problem. Your business uninterrupted!