BEIJING, July 3 (Xinhua) -- Chinese researchers have developed high-tech clothing that can monitor heart rates in real time and offer early warnings about cardiovascular disease, Science and Technology Daily reported Tuesday.
Developed by tech giant Lenovo Group and Southeast University in east China's Jiangsu Province, the monitoring garment, called Smart Vest, looks like an ordinary tight-fitting shirt. But it contains wireless electrodes, sensors and flexible circuit boards that can monitor electrocardiogram waveforms, heart sounds, blood pressure and breathing of wearers for 24 hours.
Researchers have also combined the wearable health monitoring device with artificial intelligence (AI) technology.
The vest can upload the data to a cloud platform, and wearers can monitor their health conditions in real time, including heart rates, sleep quality and mood changes, on a mobile app.
The app then can offer online diagnosis and prediction of heart disease.
Liu Chengyu, leading researcher on the study, said the best time to detect and treat a heart attack is eight hours before cardiac arrest, but that electrocardiograph waveforms usually appear abnormal two or three days ahead of a heart attack.
Therefore, through 24-hour monitoring and online diagnosis, patients will be aware of potential heart disease and get treatment in time, said Liu.
Cardiovascular deaths account for 29 percent of all deaths worldwide every year. There are 290 million people with cardiovascular disease in China, and every two out of five deaths are caused by cardiovascular disease.
According to the World Health Organization, one third of the world's population experiences symptoms of insomnia or sleep dysfunction. People with sleep problems are two to three times more likely to have cardiovascular disease than normal people. Furthermore, sleep disorders can cause hypertension and diabetes.
Patients with cardiovascular disease need regular or long-term monitoring. However, most heart monitors are box-shaped, and have to stick to the skin of users. If a patient sweats, the monitors are very likely to fall off, which may be inconvenient for daily life.
The Smart Vest, with dry electrodes inside, can perform continuous electrocardiograph monitoring for two weeks, and will not cause any skin irritation for wearers, said Liu.
"The Smart Vest is aimed mainly at cardiovascular patients, the elderly and children, and white-collar workers," said Yao Yingjia, vice president of Lenovo Group.
Researchers have carried out clinical trials of the device in hospitals.