Check your heart with a bandage

By Alejandro Freixes, CCNN Head Writer

check pulse
Check your own pulse by placing your index finger and middle finger on your wrist.

What’s thinner than a dollar bill and can measure your heartbeat? Meet the flexible, skin-like monitor that can be worn under a bandage. It’s no wider than a little sticker and yet it’s sensitive enough to know how healthy your veins are.

If you ever wanted to learn how to check your own pulse, just press your index finger and middle finger under the wrist of your other arm, like the picture down below. That soft beating is your own blood moving through your veins.

Now, with this new heart monitor that Stanford professor Zhenan Bao created, you can get a lot more information you can with your own fingers. Normally, to get detailed information about heart rates, people sometimes need to have things called catheters – little tubes – put inside of them. Not only does that hurt, they can get infected, meaning that they’re not clean anymore and can get you sick.

For newborn babies, catheters are too risky, and so this new kind of sensor could make it much easier and safer to check the heart health of infants. It may also one day make those annoying catheters a thing of the past for people of all ages.

How does it do all this? Well, there’s this thin layer of rubber that’s filled with tiny pyramid-shaped bumps on it. To give you an idea of just how small these bumps are, they’re smaller than a human red blood cell! You’d have to look under a microscope to see them. By putting pressure on the pyramids, like if it’s pushed against your skin by a bandage, it can measure your pulse by using electromagnetic fields – imagine something that’s a mix of magnets and electricity. Very nifty stuff.

Featured image courtesy of L.A. Cicero