The belt contains four dry electrodes. They avoid skin irritation and ensure wear comfort even over long periods. In contrast to known pulse sensors for sports and fitness applications, the KIT belt acquires much more data – more than a gigabyte within one week, explained KIT developer Malte Kirst. The sensor data are collected and stored in an electronics box the size of a small cellphone. After a week, the content of the storage card is read out and the battery recharged. Sensor design and data acquisition scheme ensure that usable electrocardiogram (ECG) data are generated even if a sensor fails.
Present mobile ECG measurement devices utilize conductive pastes. The self-adhesive electrodes have to be applied by medical staff with very high accuracy. After several days, the paste dries out and can generate intensive skin irritations. Typically, 24 hours of data are recorded, in some cases up to seven days – but monitoring a patient over several months so far has not been possible, Kirst claims.
The sensor belt addresses particularly the needs of patients with chronic heart failure. Across Europe, about 10 million patients suffer from this disease. Continuous monitoring can help physicians to predict beginning aggravation and take appropriate measures.
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