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E-tattoo wearable ‘could cut heart attacks by 80pc’

University of Texas researchers have developed an electronic tattoo they say could be used to continuously monitor the health of patient’s susceptible to heart disease.

The flexible wearable weighs just 2.5 grams and features circuits and sensors linked by stretchable interconnections and a penny-sized battery that lasts for over 40 hours.

According to the researchers, the e-tattoos small size and flexibility mean that it can be easily attached to the chest of heart disease patients to monitor their heart health outside of clinical setting. The research team’s findings were published recently in Advanced Electronic Materials.

The e-tattoo has two key heart health measuring instruments – an electrocardiogram (ECG) and a seismocardiogram (SCG).

ECGs measure the heart's electrical signal and are common in a number of wearables such as the Apple Watch. However, SCGs, which measure the acoustic signal from the heart valves, are harder to obtain and are usually done using stethoscopes, and at present there are no medical wearables capable of obtaining both ECG and SCG measurements.

The researchers have already tested the device on a small sample of healthy patients and the next phase will involve additional testing with a more diverse patient population.

According to Nanshu Lu, a professor in the University of Texas Department of Aerospace and Engineering Mechanics and a lead author of the study, the device holds out the possibility of uninterrupted and portable heart monitoring, aiding in the early detection of heart disease warning signs.

Lu said: "If that can be done, 80 percent of heart disease can be prevented."