Engineers at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) have developed a soft, stretchy skin patch (photo at left and below) that can be worn on the neck to continuously track blood pressure and heart rate while measuring the wearer's levels of glucose as well as lactate, alcohol, or caffeine. It is the first wearable device that monitors cardiovascular signals and multiple biochemical levels in the human body at the same time. "This type of wearable would be very helpful for people with underlying medical conditions to monitor their own health on a regular basis," said Lu Yin, a nanoengineering PhD student at UCSD and co-first author of the study published online on February 15, 2021 in Nature Biomedical Engineering. The open-access article is titled "An Epidermal Patch for the Simultaneous Monitoring of Haemodynamic and Metabolic Biomarkers." "It would also serve as a great tool for remote patient monitoring, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic when people are minimizing in-person visits to the clinic." Such a device could benefit individuals managing high blood pressure and diabetes--individuals who are also at high risk of becoming seriously ill with COVID-19. It could also be used to detect the onset of sepsis, which is characterized by a sudden drop in blood pressure accompanied by a rapid rise in lactate level. One soft skin patch that can do it all would also offer a convenient alternative for patients in intensive care units, including infants in the NICU, who need continuous monitoring of blood pressure and other vital signs. These procedures currently involve inserting catheters deep inside patients' arteries and tethering patients to multiple hospital monitors.
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