The Science Behind: Tattoos that can warn you of a heart attack

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First, let’s start by defining tattoos. According to Miriam Webster, they are an indelible mark or figure fixed upon the body by insertion of pigment under the skin or by the production of scars, however today there have been numerous ways that that definition has been stretched. And furthermore, tattoos have now come to have functional utility rather than just their aesthetic appeal. Tattoos have finally made their cross-over into science.

A prototype for the E-Tattoo

While we have seen moving tattoos and sound tattoos, these are medical tattoos that synchronize the collection of data from both electrocardiogram (ECG) and seismocardiography (SCG). This will give doctors and academicians more accurate data than they have ever collected. This inflow of data will eventually hope to lead to a better understanding of the heart and cardiac health overall. World over cardio-vascular diseases is a major cause of death. Of those numbers, four of every five deaths is caused due to either a stroke or a heart attack. This wearable technology aims to predict such occurrences and eventually create a way to provide immediate care to the people at risk.

Coming to the tattoo itself, it isn’t invasive as a traditional tattoo would be. The e-tattoo is made of a piezoelectric polymer called polyvinylidene fluoride, capable of generating its own electric charge in response to mechanical stress. Further, it is remotely charged through a smartphone, which also helps with the monitoring processes. The super-thin device also has 3-D technologies which help measure chest vibrations and choose the spot for the best location of the tattoo.

Soon tattoo tech will be fashion

Though it may seem to be a complicated and uncomfortable procedure to undergo, the researchers at UT Austin have proved otherwise. Since the material is so lightweight and stretchable in can be worn over the heart for extended periods of time causing the wearer little to no discomfort. Further, this tech takes away the need to keep going back to a hospital to have an ECG measurement. This is not only more accurate as it combines ECG and SGC but also allows the patient to be under observation for extended periods of time.

While there is an app that has recently been developed for these e-tattoos, the data collection processes are underway. Further research is also ongoing as to understand how to wirelessly power the device for longer durations and for more graphite based wearable technology. Considering how fast and accurate these devices are who knows what’s in store in terms of tattoo-science collaborations in the future.


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